The worlds of metal and hardcore have always made fairly easy bedfellows. From early progenitors of punk-influenced metal like Suicidal Tendencies, Slayer and D.R.I. to the metalcore bands of the 90s and onward, the two scenes have bands picking and choosing bits and bobs from each style and creating their own musical smorgasbord. Long Island, NY band This Is Hell, herewith known mostly as a hardcore band with a reputation for dipping their toe into crossover thrash (especially on most recent full-length ‘Black Mass’), have gone full-on metal on us, testing out the waters with their new style on the 4 track ‘The Enforcer’ EP.
This is a lightning fast listen – all over in 11 minutes – that comprises of a short guitar-led intro track, two full-throttle songs, and a cover of Metallica’s ‘Whiplash’ (the band’s choice of cover is fairly indicative of the direction the EP has taken). The two “proper” tracks are like a “best of” compilation of Bay Area thrash, with all of the “Big 4” playing a significant part of the eponymous track. ‘Walking Abominations’ has a little more bombast and melody about it – imagine Cancer Bats and Trivium in a jam session and it not being the worst thing in the world – and this might be what supergroup AxeWound might’ve sounded like if they were actually any good.
For anyone like yours truly who listened to ‘Kill ‘Em All’ as an impressionable teenager, ‘Whiplash’ is always going to bring out the fingers flying over imaginary fretboards in-between throwing horns and heads about with reckless abandon, and it seems nearly ten years into a career, it brings out the same reaction in This Is Hell. Okay, so it’s not quite as good as the Motorhead cover (little is), but it’s still a worthy listen (totally OTT finishing fretwank aside). After an unsteady couple of records in their post-Trustkill era, This Is Hell now sound focused and assured, and perhaps most importantly of all, like they are having a whale of a time. This is a promising sign of things to come, and a wise move that should see them gain more fans than those they might lose. Could This Is Hell successfully make the swerve from Underworld headliners to mid-afternoon Download Festival darlings? On this evidence, undoubtedly.