By Ryan Falla
Asheville, North Carolina band All Hell is moving fast, as they’re already releasing a follow-up to their acclaimed LP ‘The Red Sect’ which released last year. Now, All Hell is dropping an entirely new record for the whole world to hear; the speed at which they are working is indicative of their desire to be heard. ‘The Grave Alchemist’ features a fantastic concoction of thrash/punk magic with a strong flavoring of early black metal for good measure. At heart they are a punk band, yet the flavors they mix with their base sound raises them to something much greater than a simple punk band.
As much as I don’t like jumping straight to tracks at the end of the record to start off a review, I need to start this one off with the monster ‘I Am The Mist’ album closer. This track mixes the elements of thrash, punk, and black metal so perfectly, it’s almost as if Professor Utonium from PowerPuff Girls said screw the sugar, spice and everything nice and created All Hell instead. Of course that analogy applies to the entire record, but there’s still something so differently perfect about ‘I Am The Mist’. It takes the best parts of unabashedly raw punk with driving elements of thrash and shoves that needle into the veins of a black metal beast to create a legendarily unholy musical union.
This entire album is something to look forward to listening to, but my god, the last track takes all the momentum and atmosphere build up over the course of the record and balls it up into one last song to shove down your throat. You’re not only going to love it, you’re going to beg for more and more as if All Hell just became your bondage master.
‘The Grave Alchemist’ is constantly running rampant over your soul like a gang of imps pushing themselves down your throat (or up the other end) and running wild with your entrails as if they were playthings. Straight from the opening track ‘Grave Alchemy’, the record lets you know you’re going to be dealing with something different. From the opening of the track there is no “hell-speed” like burning introduction to the record; it’s as if you’re slowly walking the grand steps to the entrance of Dracula’s Castle. As you reach the top and place your hand on the door, slowly pushing it open, you are introduced to the chaotic hell on earth that is the netherworld making commune in the home of the most unholy.
Yes, this record is pretty much Castlevania: Symphony of the Night the record; and yes that specific Castlevania, since it’s the only one that’s worth discussing. Once you get dropped into the world of ‘The Grave Alchemist’, it is an unforgiving trip; no time to get settled or take view of your surroundings, the demons of this world begin their assault with unrelenting fury. ‘Necrosophia’ rockets you into the atmosphere built by All Hell with thrash metal fury that takes no time to give you rest or quarter. What’s great about punk influenced records is the tracks are often shorter than average, so by default the tracks have to be catchy and memorable off the bat or the record suffers as a whole; All Hell is one of the bands that takes full advantage of this constraint to turn it into a strength of the record.
When the record flips from a more atmospheric thrash/punk to a heavier black metal led tone, there’s no awkward change to the pace or stutter in the record’s flow. Every element is in place as it should be, this sentiment is made very clear when the track ‘The Castle’ kicks in hard with the heavier black metal elements while feeling at home with the rest of ‘The Grave Alchemist’.
This album is very much a magical track-by-track experience, as it is a memorable work as a whole. There are a lot of great records that don’t keep up the pace throughout, instead hitting you with some major tracks while it may offer some above-average filler. Though the major tracks may greatly outshine the filler of these hypothetical records, All Hell offer no filler within the glory that is ‘The Grave Alchemist’.
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Record Label: Prosthetic
Release Date: April 14th 2017
01. Grave Alchemy (4:02)
02. Necrosophia (3:27)
03. Wed The Night (2:21)
04. Vampiric Lust (2:40)
05. The Castle (3:43)
06. Laid To Unrest (3:36)
07. Memory Tomb (2:54)
08. The Madness Out Of Time (4:09)
09. The Thing In The Ground (3:49)
10. Return Of The Reaper (3:03)
11. Elixir (2:40)
12. I Am The Mist (4:44)
Total Duration: 41:08