People were pissed at Metallica for cutting their hair, but it’s doubtful they can say the same to This is Hell. It’s their new single, “Black Mass,” that’s the answer to that week ago mysterious teaser for that “unknown event.” When#blackmass was trending on Twitter, it either meant it’s another seven-piece band thinking bridging experimental and hardcore is a wonderful idea, OR it’s time to pay attention.
The blood splatter-colored vinyl, pentagrams, and goat heads could be cliché too quick…unless you can pull it off. But these Long Island thrashers lived up to what they preached instead of the all too often “all talk no show.” It seems like bands say all the time how the album has a “Beatles edge” or a “Smiths influence.” It never ever does and only leaves you with expletives. This is Hell is different and it probably has to do with all those covered 108 songs.
So at this point you understand that “Black Mass” is truly thrash metal, but with a hardcore flavor of course. As a band that has always been a little more Cro-Mags and a little less Anthrax, this is a pleasant and interesting departure.
The first minute welcomes the listener to one hell of an ugly religious procession, where “funeral” would be a better fit better than “mass.” Clear rapid-fire drumming of general Mike Sciulara reveals the nicest thing This Is Hell could do: send the record with a neck brace- because you’re going to need it. Guitarist Rick Jimenez immediately files his way through “Kill ‘Em All”-esque riffs and bassist Pieter van den Berg grooves out a nasty feedback spot of his own. Shouting to his pulpit, “All rise for the Black Mass,” stage stalker Travis Reilly tells a story of being lied to. Then other lines like, “You may be fooling everyone, but you aren’t fooling me,” say the same. Well, that goes both ways man. We metalheads ask the journalistic five W’s (who is lying? Why? Wait, what?).There’s a sense of a larger theme here and perhaps the October release will answer the (under) world questions.
It’s a good joke at hardcore shows to shout “Slayer!” when it’s quiet, but that won’t be funny anymore if This Is Hell keeps it up. For a band that refuses to be confined to the traditions of hardcore, it’s refreshing to see a switch-up. There is so much potential here, let’s just get a little more context. It very well may be something that needs to be presented in full, like a mass- preferably a kind with no rules.