"some music was meant to stay underground..."

Hell - "Curse and Chapter" (CD)

Hell - "Curse and Chapter" CD cover image

"Curse and Chapter" track listing:

1. Gehennae Incendiis
2. The Age of Nefarious
3. The Disposer Supreme
4. Darkhangel
5. Harbinger of Death
6. End ov Days
7. Deathsquad
8. Something Wicked This Way Comes
9. Faith Will Fall
10. Land of the Living Dead
11. Deliver Us from Evil
12. A Vespertine Legacy

Reviewed by on November 11, 2013

"'Curse & Chapter' represents the best work that has ever come from Hell, a masterpiece of pure metal that has every element a real metalhead wants in an album."

I don’t know if it’s the pure evil that draws me in, the “nefarious” symbols of the beast’s number, the name evoking the burning fires of damnation, the haunting melodies of poison, the malicious riffs of majestic hate, or the angry spirit of original vocalist/guitarist Dave Halliday (who killed himself in 1987)… but U.K.’s Hell has a power of persuasion that has not been heard since Mercyful Fate strummed the riffs of musical contagions like “Curse of the Pharaohs” and “Evil.”

“Curse & Chapter” is not a rework of the band’s plethora of 80’s demos, but all new material. After 31 years, the band releases an album of brand new compositions, led by guitarist Kev Bower, vocalist/actor brother David Bower, and guitarist and producer extraordinaire Andy Sneap. “Curse & Chapter” represents the best work that has ever come from Hell, a masterpiece of pure metal that has every element a real metalhead wants in an album.

Taking the used image of Satanism in metal aside (here portrayed in the most clever of ways lyrically and musically) from a pure enjoyment of music standpoint, “Curse & Chapter” plays like a modern day combination of the best of Mercyful Fate, King Diamond, and Iron Maiden, save for a much different – but no less uniquely entertaining - vocalist. Each song is brilliantly crafted with both straight forward and complex high octane riffs, meticulously played solos, and spellbinding melodies. Like the character “Mr. Dark,” choruses on tracks like the Bradbury inspired “Something Wicked This Way Comes” draw out the good from the most devout of listeners. Hell makes you want Satan as your master – though in the end, it’s merely a well-acted part from British actor David Bower (known in acting circles as David Beckford).

Now don’t misunderstand me here, when pitted against the musical acumen of geniuses like Arjen Luccasson or Devin Townsend, Hell’s members may not make your top musician lists. It’s the combination of pure metal played in a highly contagious variety, with a sole purpose to entertain, and that is where the true genius lies. You may have heard it all before… but be prepared to be wrapped up in all the evil to the point where “Curse & Chapter” plays near endlessly for weeks (and months) on end.

“Darkhangel” (no misprint) alone makes the entire album worth mentioning in the annual top 10 lists. Only, it doesn’t stop there: “Land of the Living Dead” and “Deliver Us From Evil” are some of the album’s most entertaining (needs more cowbell…), while “The Age of Nefarious” gives a clever and sarcastic ode to the 5th Dimension classic “Age of Aquarius” in the first 3 seconds of the chorus. It’s fun, its metal, it’s the way of it should be in this ultra-sensitive and overly serious world we live in.

“Curse & Chapter” is one of those albums that likely will not impress those who take their music much too seriously and fail to stop and take in the fun and humor of it all. Hell is designed for the metal warrior of old and a new generation of fans who didn’t have the luxury of growing up with bands like Mercyful Fate, Satan, Agent Steel, and Abattoir. For these fans, this album represents one of the required buys of the year, one chock full of so many subgenres and styles that all equally vie for the title of metal’s best. “Curse & Chapter” is the best of what metal needs to be at times – off handed, snarky, rebellious, tougue-in-cheek poster children of metal stereotypes. Evil is divine… and Hell is Heaven. Reap the benefits and sow the seeds of true metal.

Highs: One of the best examples of traditional metal to be released this year.

Lows: Not for those who like the more serious aspects of music.

Bottom line: Through "Curse & Chapter" evil draws you into the mouth of Hell.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)