Released: 2009, Magic Circle Music
Reviewer: Robert Williams
HolyHell is a five-piece female fronted symphonic metal band made up of an all star cast of notable musicians. Maria Breon is a classically trained singer, Joe Stump is a world renowned shredder and Rhino is a former alumni of Manowar. HOLYHELL the self-titled debut is the band's first full length for Magic Circle Music, following up the four song "Apocalypse" EP released in 2007 and of course is "Produced and Engineered In Hell" by Joey DeMaio himself.
The packaging on HOLYHELL is second to none. The black faced jewelcase sees the band's logo and song titles embossed in silver and looks really slick. HolyHell perform a pretty commercial oriented brand of symphonic metal. Radio ready hooks are abundant and I could best describe their sound as a later era Nightwish meets Evanescence, as their is a certain amount of gothic imagery surfacing from time to time. HOLYHELL is almost conceptual in nature though, as all of the CD's thirteen tracks deal with the conflict between light and dark, good and evil, heaven and hell. Joe Stump is wise to not overplay on this disc, knowing his place and knowing when to let loose. Maria ranges from standard operatic fare on "Wings Of Light" to a more venomous approach on "Eclipse" to really singing her head off on tracks like "Holy Water" and "Apocalypse". For the most part HOLYHELL plays it pretty safe on this record, one could argue to better establish their sound. However it would be nice to see some faster, more aggressive, less accessible tunes up for offer.
The production on HOLYHELL is top notch and one would expect no less from a metal veteran like Joey DeMaio. HolyHell show a lot of promise and it will be interesting to see how they will continue to branch out and further develop on future efforts. I think they need to work a bit to better differentiate themselves from their peers in the female fronted plethora of metal bands as at times they do recall their peers, but with the lineup just exploding with talent I'm sure they can come up with something pretty over the top in the future.