Hell are a NWOBHM band from the early-mid 80s that pushed forward the dark, occult vibe that bands like Venom take credit for, if you didn’t know. A shit album deal consequently led the band to fall apart in 1986, and a year later vocalist Dave Halliday tragically killed himself. Long time fan of the band Andy Sneap reconvened with founder Kev Bower and the rest of the original lineup to give the original demos a kick up the arse and release the well overdue debut, Human Remains.
If you liked the original demo productions, you’re either an idiot or have supernaturally hearing that can clear up any kind of lacklustre work that counts as production. Human Remains has been given a 21st Century makeover, and as such it sounds beautifully clean and crisp, but every part as unsettling as it’s predecessors. As On Earth As It Is In Hell begins, the blues-driven hard rock riffs pound in with their now-succulent tone before the minor harmonies begin and give Hell reason to live up to their name. The uneasy Oppressors drags itself across the floor with it’s relentless, pounding hooks pulsating in your brain before diving into the overblown theatrics of The Blasphemy And The Master.
The vocals are handled by Dave Bower, guitarist Kev’s brother. There has always been a leaning on theatrics in the era of metal when witches, sorcery, burning, the devil etc reigned supreme and David Beckford (his stage name) delivers magnificently, his voice cracking and splitting as he shrieks through The Martyr, unspeakable tortures dripping of his tongue as if every word brings him closer to Lucifer himself. The music itself is as classic as the themes covered, but it’s the vocal performance that really makes Human Remains shine as a thespian takes on an almost Shakespearian role as front man.
Hell have sat on some top notch material for over twenty years, and it’s almost criminal considering some of the tripe that’s now termed as classic for the NWOBHM era. Human Remains is one of the greatest albums never released. Until now.