Released: 2011, Brennus Music
Saint Laurent Du Var, France is where HellXHere calls home. You do not hear of many metal bands from this town, but maybe that is about to change because HellXHere are for real. The band’s forming through the use of social media in a locally obscure area for metal is a fitting story for the 21st century; a testament to just how much technology has benefited metal music in general. Guitarist Mirwan discovered fellow guitarist and vocalist Fred Hamm scouring social media pages for a local connection to the music he envisioned. The two formed the two-piece band HellXHere, influenced by bands like Megadeth, Judas Priest, and Coroner. As a result, the self-titled 9-track debut saw its beginnings in 2009 and was finished in late 2010.
While the minimalists cover art is not particularly inspiring, the album kicks off with the promising title track, a traditional meat and potatoes mid-tempo metal song with octave and guitar harmony lines and lightning fast fills. Vocally, Hamm’s style of singing channels Hetfield and Peavey Wagner of Rage, a workman-like, no-frills style with a bit of Mustaine thrown in without the sneer. “Vows of Deicide” is another fine track, the opening riff being very reminiscent of “Over My Dead Body”, by Metal Church before transitioning to a tremolo picked, and double bass (drum machine?) section similar to many black metal tunes, albeit with far better production. For the most part, the album is up tempo and technical guitar work as would be expected when two guitarist are running the show. “Pyramid” breaks the mold slightly, being an instrumental with a nice introduction that builds to a syncopated and tricky rhythm and follows with lots of starts, stops, and riff changes. “Die By My Word” is also a cool tune where Hamm sounds like a cross between Lemmy and Rob Cavestany’s vocals with The Organization.
There are many positive attributes on this debut. I like the fact that the bands influences are clearly retro, but their sound is more modernized and avoids being a rehash of their influences. The music is aggressive and technical with a clear emphasis on the guitar and the production is very respectable. Negatives would be that many of the songs are quite similar sounding, a fairly typical affliction of debut albums as bands evolve to find their niche. Similarly, a little more variety would be welcome as the songs are all fairly long, each one being over four minutes and a third of them are over six minutes. What about the drums? Suffice it to say, way too much double bass throughout. Nevertheless, HELLXHERE is a promising debut, with plenty to admire and room for growth. Fans of Rage, Judas Priest, Charred Walls of The Damned, and Coroner should find HELLXHOME an attractive proposition.