Review: Hell:on “Scythian Stamm” [Hell Serpent Music]

Review: Hell:on “Scythian Stamm” [Hell Serpent Music]

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This is a pretty decent death/thrash album that has some potentially good ideas, but is not quite great yet.

The album starts off pretty well, with the explosive but catchy riffs of tracks like Spreading Chaos and The Architect’s Temple. Those songs have a quite good combination of ferocity and melody, with the strange and complex guitar riffs. But somewhere in the middle, they turn into something more generic and repetitive, that still has some energy, but overall isn’t quite as memorable. The only things saving those songs are Spreading Chaos’s sudden turning into Middle Eastern-sounding music, then back to death metal, and The Architect’s Temple’s addition of a jaw harp in the background.

That’s a pretty good indicator of the album’s overall sound: some energy and some really original ideas, but somewhat uneven songwriting, with tracks that last too long and quickly turn much blander than they started, and blend together. That makes an album that’s far from bad, but a little difficult to get through.

Of course, I’m being mean. Some songs are pretty nice, and are a good example of what the band was trying to do. I already described the first two, but I could also mention Under The Protection From Beyond, which is the catchiest song, with its unrelentingly fast thrash rhythms and its strange “Beyond, beyond” chanting. While Movements Of The Godless and Denial Of Death are the least experimental and most “normal” tracks on the album, they’re also pretty fast and energetic, and Movements Of The Godless has some nice high-pitched screams as background to the lower growls.

By contrast, Ashes Of The Gods is the most experimental track, continuing with the jaw harp of The Architect’s Temple and using some strange vocals. Another peculiar one is B.S.B. with its jaw harp and weird chanting. Those are the tracks that really work the best overall.

Another nice thing I’d like to mention is the… sort of evil mythological references? With all the references to the Scythians, death and the beyond, gods and temples, I think this album is trying to tell a story inspired by darker aspects of various mythology. I can’t tell what this is about exactly, but it’s pretty nice.

So this album has some good ideas, but I don’t think it really works for me. It’s something I can respect, but it was tough to finish, and also tough to write about. Maybe it’s great and I don’t get it. Or maybe I can respect that it was trying something different, and I can recommend some tracks like B.S.B., Under The Protection From Beyond and Ashes Of The Gods but I think you can do without the rest. Maybe you’ll like it more than I did, but to me it was a nice but not great album.

Release date: November 1st, 2020

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