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Mpire Of Evil - "Hell To The Holy" (CD)

Mpire Of Evil - "Hell To The Holy" CD cover image

"Hell To The Holy" track listing:

1. Hellspawn
2. Metal Messiah
3. Waking Up Dead
4. Hell To The Holy
5. Snake Pit
6. All Hail
7. Devil
8. Shockwave
9. The 8th Gate
10. M-pire (Prelude)

Reviewed by on February 27, 2012

"As befitting its membership, Mpire Of Evil's 'Hell To The Holy' raises plenty of Venom-style hell."

After stumbling out of the gate a bit with "Creatures Of The Black," (reviewed here) an ill-advised EP of covers and a couple original tunes, Mpire Of Evil finds its footing on the band's full-length debut, "Hell To The Holy." With three ex-members of Venom making up Mpire Of Evil, it's not surprising that these songs have the dawn-of-thrash sound that Venom and Motorhead pioneered back in the day.

For the uninitiated, Mpire Of Evil is made up of guitarist Jeff "Mantas" Dunn, Tony "Demolition Man" Dolan on bass and vocals and Antony "Antton" Lant on drums. It's somewhat easy — and, for that matter, reflexive — to say that this stuff doesn't measure up to Venom classics like "Prime Evil" and "Black Metal," but it's got plenty to offer on its own merits.

The opener, "Hellspawn" and especially the follow-up track "Metal Messiah" get the classic thrash vibe going, with the former having a definite Motorhead feel, while the latter blends in some of the technicality of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal circa 1981 or so.

That era is recalled affectionately (if somewhat clumsily, lyrically) in "Snake Pit," which recalls "one hot night in '85" and name-checks Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and the Scorpions, making reference to "aces" and "bullet belts" worn by another classic metal icon. The track features Mantas' best ax-work on the album, with some face-meltingly awesome solos.

Those looking for a brief break from the fury will enjoy the bottleneck blues that opens "Devil," a familiar tale of a musician looking to trade his soul to Satan for some tasty licks. It's the album's grooviest track, with plenty of hip-shakin' to go with the head-bangin'.

Much of the credit for that — and, for that matter, how well the rest of the album goes down — has to go to Antton, who expertly straddles the divide between the double-bass bashing of thrash and the more groovy approach that tracks like "Devil and "Waking Up Dead" require.

Sure, the album has its share of filler tracks — "All Hail" and the pretty generic title tune in particular — but nothing falls short of being listenable. The biggest complaint to be had musically speaking is that Demolition Man's bass work is fairly inconsistent. On the faster tunes, he's got the Lemmy Kilmister vibe down pat, but on some of the the slower tracks — particularly "Hell To The Holy" — his playing feels a bit muddled.

As befitting its membership, Mpire Of Evil's "Hell To The Holy" raises plenty of Venom-style hell. Fans of the way metal sounded as the '70s turned into the '80s are going to find plenty to love here.

Highs: "Hellspawn," "Devil" and "Snake Pit."

Lows: "Hell To The Holy" and "All Hail."

Bottom line: A Venom-style thrasher that will please fans of that band plenty.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

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)