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Hellhookah - The Curse

Hellhookah
The Curse
by Mark Machlay at 27 June 2020, 10:58 AM

Lithuanian two-piece HELLHOOKAH released their sophomore effort “The Curse” on April 17, 2020, a low-fi, minimalist stoner doom 7 song collection. Though formed in 2012 by Arnas on guitar and vocals and Gintare on drums, the band wouldn’t perform live for almost 2 years. They managed to release a short demo in 2014 and soon after released their debut “Endless Serpents” on October 22, 2015 to many positive reviews among the stoner and doom metal fans. A year later, they were able to tour outside of their home country to the likes of Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Ukraine. In subsequent years they were able to travel to even further countries through festivals or mini-tours playing alongside DUEL, THE FREEKs, and TORTUGA to name a few. After embarking on a full European tour in 2019, they unveiled their hard work of writing new material with single “Greed and Power” in September in 2019 to whet the fans appetites after 4 years of waiting for new material.

They play traditional doom metal in the style of BLACK SABBATH, PENTAGRAM and St. Vitus. The old-school, lo-fi production harkens back to an honest and authentic presentation that does away when any of the frills of modern production. They are uncomplicated, sticking to about three different riffs throughout a song and simply repeating them for the droning, stoner effect. Opener “Running Through Time” is nicely positioned as the attention grabber, starting with an intriguing clean guitar riff before its distorted turn, suitably sinister in its introduction. “Supremacy” continues the sinister with a DEEP PURPLE inspired riff, subtly twisted to an edge. “The Creature” is a nice centerpiece and stand-out with its even slower devilish chug, eventually adding syncopation and complexity and has the first inkling of a blues-tinged lead line. Title track “The Curse” is another stand-out, big and slow, almost dragging as if to the pits of hell. “Dreams and Passions” is business for the band as usual until the latter third in which we pick up speed, features an honest guitar solo and ends on a primal scream from Arnas.

Overall, this is suitable stoner-doom metal but it wasn’t catching my ear too strongly. My first criticism would the uncreative vocal lines that almost mirror the guitar movement in unison. As a guitarist, I understand the ease and trap you can fall into while playing and end up singing the guitar line you’re playing with your fingers if you’re not careful. But, professionally, it screams of lazy and uninspired. Production was fine, I was glad to see at least someone played something of a bass guitar line underneath the layers of guitars or it may have sounded really thin. The duo likes to sit in a mood and many are content to revel in the same riff over and over. I expect more even from my doom metal and was hoping for more changeups from such a short seven song package.

Songwriting: 6
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 6
Production: 8

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Running Through Time
2. Supremacy
3. The Creature
4. Flashes
5. The Curse
6. Dreams and Passions
7. Greed and Power
Lineup:
Arnas – Guitars and Vocals
Gintare – Drums
Record Label: Independent
     


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Edited 28 July 2021
 

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