This Is Hell – Black Mass: Album Review

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If This Is Hell were some kind of product their slogan would most likely be “I can’t believe it’s not hardcore”. This Is Hell’s new album Black Mass takes the original product that is This Is Hell and improves upon the formula. The packaging now reads “Now with 50% extra added angst and thrash”.

Black Mass sees This Is Hell pushing in a somewhat new direction, the chaotic I don’t give a fuck attitude of their previous albums is still there but this time around they’ve opted for a more 80’s glam metal meets 90’s metal/hardcore in a bar and has a fight to the death type sound or as it is more commonly known: crossover thrash.

The track Salt The Earth is just one of many surprises on this album. It starts off sounding like a track a 90’s thrash metal band would of released and then morphs into a mid-nineties Hatebreed sounding song. This is one of my favourites on Black Mass without-a-doubt, it’s a simple carnage inducing hardcore track that makes you want to bust out the knuckle-busters and head on down to your local bar for an elevated discussion with whoever comes your way.

Categorising Black Mass into a particular genre is near impossible. In certain parts it sounds like a hardcore album, in other parts it sounds like a metal album and in some parts it sounds like a thrash album. It’s a powerhouse of many different genres and influences, This Is Hell is probably one of the few bands around today that can successfully pull that kind of sound off. I’m not buying the cross over thrash genre tag, this album feels like so much more than that.

The title track Black Mass is yet another surprise. It seriously sounds like a Metallica track, the starting riff could easily pass for a guitar riff written by Kirk Hammett himself but then soon after beginning it transforms into a beat-down hardcore track. This track sounds very reminiscent of material from This Is Hell’s sophomore album Misfortunes.

The guitar solos on Black Mass, whoa. I’ve never heard This Is Hell cram in so many guitar solos in anything they’ve ever released, pretty much every single track has a guitar solo in it and not just some pussy half-guitar solo, but an actual guitar solo. The track The Wars Part One has an awesome solo in it, hate to bring up the comparison again but sounds like the kind of solo you would have heard on Metallica’s masterpiece of an album Master of Puppets. The guitar work on Black Mass period is one hundred times better than anything they’ve ever done in the past.

One thing that particularly stood out for me on Black Mass and something most reviewers won’t mention is the excellent production. Not one single aspect of this album sounds overproduced just like a good hardcore record should be. The guitars have a nice tone to them, the drums stand out and cymbals don’t sound like glass. You can really hear every snare hit, drum kick and beat-down on Black Mass. The vocals sound extremely brutal, but not over produced and fake like most of the other bands on Rise Records today.

I really enjoyed listening to this album I’ve literally listened to it about 10 times and counting, it’s one of those albums that don’t get old and tiring after the first or second listen. An absolutely refreshing release that is without-a-doubt in my top 5 favourite albums of the year alongside Major/Minorr by Thrice and Wildlife by La Dispute. The album is currently streaming in its entirety on Lambgoat as well, listen to it here while you can.

Black Mass comes out October 11th, 2011 through Rise Records. Don’t forget to pre-order the album as well or buy it when it comes out, this album is seriously that good.

Rating: 9 out of 10.