If you have read my past reviews for this wonderful site for any length of time, you might have noticed that while I rave on about some quite unhinged and out there bands and artists, I occasionally show my love for some relatively conventional strains of metal as well. Or as I put it, the noun in avant garde metal is “METAL” !
With that out of the way, let me introduce you to the ferocity and epic-ness of Lelahell. Hailing from the beautiful yet troubled land of Algeria, this three piece have quite a metal pedigree between them, and are central to the small but fervent metal scene in Algeria.
This is a short EP, that can also work as demo in that it is an introduction to the band, and promises great things in the future. These are the first steps of the band mixing the band members various influences (primarily brutal death metal and black metal) and they come out with something that is more than the sum of its parts. The hyper blast fest (crushing opening) of the first song “Emperor” is slightly misleading, but the mid tempo-ed lead break shows promise. This promise is more fully realized on the short interlude that follows as well as the third track, which shows a band with the chops, riffs and the classic sensibility to go far. The production quality surprised me in almost being too clean, especially for a band that occasionally conjures up images of Celtic Frost or Sodom as much as Suffocation. The drums almost seem programmed in some places, being so prim and precise in sound and execution.
The growls also vary a bit with pitch and some slight layering, leading to a much more enjoyable experience than the usual monotonic delivery in such releases (usually rasped or growled all the way, which is definitely not the case here).
Another thing I’m grateful for is the band shows admirable restraint in pillaging Algerian culture, avoiding the now cliched Middle Eastern Metal sound. They very occasionally let these influences through, which makes them all the more effective. The riffing remains top notch throughout, and some song ideas are downright brilliant (witness the lead break in “Hermanos”).
The “Freezing Moon” cover ending the EP is the longest track here and shows the band’s black metal influence, but is too by the numbers and long to hold my interest. The EP ends in a wave of strange sounds. Better they would have put one or two more originals.
With some more time as a unit, the songwriting might get even more original and mature, and the full length will surely be one to look for.
01 – Emperor
02 – Al Moutanabi
03 – Into The Past
04 – Al Ihtiqar
05 – Hermanos
06 – Freezing Moon (Mayhem Cover)