Giving the body and senses no time to grab a breath from its first brawling note through to its riotous last, the debut self-titled album from Danish thrashers Hell’s Domain is a storming blaze of thrilling aggression and voracious energy. Without pushing down the walls of the genre, the album is one of the freshest and invigorating thrash releases to come along certainly this year and a marker for other bands to aspire to if they want to permanently enslave the passions.
Formed by bassist Lars Knudsen and guitarist Bjørn Bihlet in 2007 with an intent to conjure up some contagious Bay Area-inspired metal, the band was soon drawing on the combined experiences of being in bands such as Crionic, Hatesphere, Pixie Killers, Artillery, Grope, Koldborn, and Exmortem from the mid-eighties and over three hundred shows with a line-up completed by drummer Anders Gyldenøhr, vocalist Alex Clausen, and guitarist Andreas Schubert in 201,. Produced by Tue Madsen (The Haunted, Sick of it All, Kataklysm, etc.) and released via Punishment 18 Records, the band’s first full introduction to the world is armed with all the weaponry and virulence to thrust them into the widest recognition of devouring passions possible. With a sound sure to re-ignite the hunger bands like Testament, Exodus, and Slayer bred over the years, Hell’s Domain is a force destined to re-vitalise their genre.
Days in Hell opens up the fury, riffs searing the flesh of the ear whilst belligerent rhythms rap hungrily upon the smarting doorways to the senses. It is an immediately incendiary confrontation elevated by the excellent vocals of Clausen and the escaping grooves which taunt before wrapping tightly around the still torrential flow of antagonistic riffery. There is a swarm like incessancy to the attack which only accentuates the song’s temptation and merciless persuasion, but also an intent which is equally sure and precise in its picking and seizing of targets.
The following The Needle and the Vein and In The Trenches continue the immense start, the first caging the listener in a web of drum stabs and hearty riffs before flaring up with scythes of melodic flames which have a near on psychobilly lilt to their punk bred strikes. The song ravages with pack like intensity and ferocity from every second and note whilst drawing a tempering seduction from its melodies and sonic enterprise to defuse the suffering. The mighty encounter is soon matched by its successor, the song initially a more restrained and deliberate enticement with a hard rock beckoning soaking the vocal’s entrance before casting a greater thrall through an Anthrax like adrenaline led predation.
Even at this point you sense something special is brewing up potent toxicity, a hope and assumption confirmed by the likes of the slower persuading yet ultimately passion seizing Order #227, the sonic sand blaster The Walls Come Tumblin’ Down, and especially by the exceptional Crawling in the Shadows. The second of the three is a blistering tempest sculpted by ever impressing destructive rhythms and scathing consuming riffing ridden by magnetically alluring and powerful vocals. The song epitomises the album, it not exactly stretching boundaries but creating a presence and attack which is compelling, virulent, and lanced with individual sonic devilry. The last of the trio opens with a smouldering weave off melodic caresses upon the ear and imagination, its ambience building up to a climactic expulsion which holds off until the colour hued narrative of the guitars have crafted the landscape for the sinew clad adventure to forage. The track once in full stride stalks the listener with its predatory yet welcoming charm, showing again the diversity and inventive thought within the thrash cored tornado of an album.
There is not one sign of weakness or a dip in the staggering strength and lure of the release, songs such as the mighty Dead Civilization, a bruising assault loaded with greedy rabidity, and the corrosively riveting and deliciously wanton As Good As Dead only accelerating the deepening call of a set in rapture whilst the exhilarating primal force of A Good Day to Die leads the pulse rate and heart into dangerous territories, whispers of Suicidal Tendencies only raising the toxicity of the song’s bait.
Completed by a cover of the Crionic track Sneaking Disease, Hell’s Domain has unleashed undoubtedly one of, if not the very best thrash record of the year and a contender for the most enjoyable metal album full stop. Now this is how to spend those coming autumn months, locked in the maelstrom that is Hell’s Domain.
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