From Sacramento, California, comes the ever-changing art of a very daring band, I’m indeed speaking of Hella. Mind you, There’s no 666 in Outer Space, released on Patton’s Ipecac Recordings, was my first real exposure to their musical craft and already within the first listening session, I became utterly fascinated by the way these guys turn the most confrontational multi-tracks riffing ever into some of the catchiest art-metal tunes I’ve heard in a great while. Having two prominent guitarists and one loud-fingering bassist fighting against and with each others, if you carefully pick out all of the riffing elements one by one and in itself, everything is overly technical, deconstructed, meltingly abstract and therefore always on the borders of being just too much. You’ve probably heard, at least once, from one of these masturbatory jerky-proggy bands whose main concern is always to show off more, and more, and more, forgetting all about the rules of head-banging insanity. Well, that’s really not the case with Hella, please do not worry.
Instead, the music here is warm in textures, deep in sound, and even within its last-minute changing patterns and structures, long build-ups of atmospheric climaxes can always surprise you. There’s also a certain feeling of blood-boiling urgency throughout the entire album’s duration: this is dangerous stuff, folks, no kidding. You’re holding a bomb in your head at each passing second. Call it post-thrash-jazz, I say whatever – this is a fucking intense ride!
Every pretentious (or not) extreme jazzy metal drummer definitely has to hear Zach Hill behind his machine-gun bashing kit. This is what artful rhythm constructivism is all about. Even tighter than a blasting Czral on speed, this man is exploring a frenzied drumming style I had never heard prior to experiencing Hella’s unique approach. No typical blast beats nor double-bass attacks are to be found here; it’s just so much more extreme than that. Without such a solid backbone, I would even go as far as to say that Hella’s music couldn’t be that metal-oriented. Hill certainly is aggressive and groovy like none other.
Nasal-filtered acid vocals are graciously layered all over the music, and let me tell you that singer Aaron Ross has an amazing palette of squealing throatings to spit forth. It really sounds as if Megadeth’s very own Dave Mustaine came back to his old-school sessions of excessive cocaine snorting, while Voïvod’s Snake embarked upon an occult bathing into unknown liquefied planets, only to give the great sarcastic guru Jello Biafra an opportunity to make his critical madness shine through. And I’m serious here.
Upon feeling concrete traces of an immense enthusiasm, I immediately started tracking down reviews on the web, but soon enough got turned off: most of them mentioned how crappy this new album is. Keep in mind that this is Hella’s first record as a full band, reconstructing from scratch, maybe without even knowing it, the whole metal genre. If 666 represents, as a symbol, the sterile and limiting rules of a down-to-earth take on metal, and if outer space is the infinity of experimental possibilities, then I’ve got to admit that there’s no 666 at all in Hella’s quest for outer space. Bravo!
01 – World Series
02 – Let Your Heavies Out
03 – The Ungrateful Dead
04 – Friends Don’t Let Friends Win
05 – The Things That People Do When They Think No One’s Looking
06 – Hand That Rocks The Cradle
07 – 2012 And Countless
08 – Anarchists Just Wanna Have Fun
09 – Dull Fangs
10 – Sound Track To Insecurity
11 – There’s No 666 In Outer Space