I have been waiting for this moment for some time now. Even prior to my listening to their promotional EP of “Creatures Of The Black”, I had the feeling that a new metallic storm is about to hit the roof and its going to be black, furious, insanely heavy but classic in nature. Through the Italian label of Scarlet Records, evil continues to stride with no one to stop its giant paces with a full length debut under the depraved name of “Hell To The Holy”. This evil is the British veterans of MPIRE OF EVIL. If you haven’t heard about this new unholy triplet you might notice that we are talking about three ex-VENOM members filled with anger but with the great sagacity of NWOBHM, Thrash and the first wave of Black Metal of the early 80s.
When I first listened to their debut EP, I was a bit perplexed due to their utter resemblance to VENOM’s dirty and gloomy sound production and musical direction that didn’t seem to change. I am saying this even whereas that EP has only two new originals, which both were absent from this release, while the rest of the tracklist consists of cover to the band’s classic favorite bands. Nonetheless, “Hell To The Holy” told me otherwise and nearly revoked all my fears that it will end up to be another VENOM copy like album.
In comparison to the new “Fallen Angels” release of VENOM, MPIRE OF EVIL seemed to me a little more diverse, darker than ever, heavy and brutal as hell whilst in several areas the picture became doomy, sludgy, drug like hazy and even bluesy. Don’t get me wrong, Mantas, Demolition Man and Antton didn’t forget how to pound hard and strike with no sympathy, however, and that is an hypothesis of mine, I believe they also didn’t want to sound similar to VENOM and attempted to reach horizons that still kept them in the darkest realms of Metal. On the other hand, “Hell To The Holy” seemed to me like a straightforward Metal piece most of the way. Even in spite the fact that they had a few moments of low tempo, BLACK SABBATH slanting rhythms, the end notes were speedy, heavy and aggressive. The way I figured from this album is that the music was far from being called a breakthrough but rather basic, simple in structure and in a way a little repetitive, even due to what I perceived as a will to be different from an ancient giant.
While looking for a good Thrash / Speed Metal piece I found “Metal Messiah”. Though “Hellspawn” ripped my skin off with that heavy palm muted C part that reminded me of classic era of METALLICA, the metallic preaching demon of a messiah is a sort of a dark anthem. “All Hail” is another massive anthem that kicked in with NWOBHM madness along with the same speed that served the other tracks earlier on. ‘The 8th Gate” is a classic Doom Metal track that made me think of old VENOM songs yet it tended towards the BLACK SABBATH zone. Be prepared for a little bit more of an 8 minute track of downright dimness. However, the track that really made me wish it was longer was “M-pire (Prelude)”. Heavy, Thrash and Speed Metal cracked me up with such a force that I played it more than four times in a row. Cheers for you the holy triplet of evil.
I found “Hell To The Holy” to be a great start for this veteran crew. They showed me that no matter the age, they can still kick ass and obliterate most of the acts of core lying around today. However, I expected this release to be a little more than fundamental even with its loyalty towards the archetypal.
1. Hellspawn 2. Metal Messiah 3. Waking Up Dead 4. Hell To The Holy 5. Snake Pit 6. All Hail 7. Devil 8. Shockwave 9. The 8th Gate 10. M-pire (Prelude)