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At Home In Hell - "At Home In Hell" (CD/EP)

At Home In Hell - "At Home In Hell" CD/EP cover image

"At Home In Hell" track listing:

1. Fire (Intro) (3:23)
2. Rite to Sin (3:28)
3. Just Another Story (3:37)
4. Fault (3:57)
5. The Knife (5:18)
6. The Other Me (3:56)
7. Go Back Inside (2:05)
8. Everyone Lies (3:48)

Reviewed by on August 28, 2008

"Their debut EP keeps the tension running high and the anger on a good low simmer with frequent bursts that break the boiling point."

The guys in At Home in Hell are seriously pissed off, and they want to let everyone know about it. Their debut, self-titled EP keeps the tension running high and the anger on a good low simmer with frequent bursts that break the boiling point. Boasting surprisingly great production quality for an indie release, sound effects that generally work well within the framework of the music, and dealing with the personal issues that get on everybody’s nerves, the album has plenty to like for fans of the hardcore sound.

A firm grasp of the mentality of the music can be had by popping open the CD case to see that the insert has a list of all the people and venues who have crossed the band and why they are worthy of derision, rather than the standard thanks to everyone who helped the band out. The album deals almost exclusively with issues of hatred, hypocrisy, and self loathing. From the indictment of the holier than thou righteous crowd who have no compunctions about being as depraved as the rest of the world in “Rite to Sin” to the more personal Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde dichotomy of “The Other Me,” there are very few moments when the songs don’t try to get the temperature and blood pressure steadily rising.

The band’s first offering starts with a space oriented, sound effects laden opening track, featuring piercing noises coming out of the darkness that resemble something like a screaming whale, if whales traveled the stars instead of the seas. This particular effect sees use a few times during the course of the album, popping up every now and again in between the bursts of rage. The opening sound effects actually work pretty well to set up a mood for the album, but unfortunately the sounds as a whole suffer from a lack of uniform vision, as they frequently bounce back and forth between the spacey and cosmic theme to a more down to earth horror movie vibe. Both styles work well, but the album would sound a lot tighter and more focused if only one or the other had been utilized instead of both. Synths and samples are a large part of At Home In Hell’s sound, and for the most part they add something to the band instead of being relegated to gimmick status. The only major exception is when one song opens with a sample of Kevin Spacey’s iconic line about the devil from the movie "The Usual Suspects" being spliced intermittently into the music, giving the song an unfortunate trance techno feel that doesn’t match the tone of the rest of the tracks.

The vocals used on the album are usually a low yell somewhere in between the energetic screaming of metalcore and the plodding dirge-like growls of early death metal, but there are plenty of variations on the theme used liberally to accentuate the focus of the lyrics or spice up songs so they stay far away from the dreaded curse of monotony. The song “Just Another Story” uses some distortion of the vocals to produce sounds that wouldn’t be all that out of place on a black metal disc, and several songs such as “Go Back Inside” use a style approaching clean singing, but with a more stilted and deranged quality that gives the impression that the vocalist is completely out of his mind in his fury.

If their self-titled EP is any indication, At Home In Hell will probably be carving out a nice little niche for themselves in the hardcore genre whenever a full length album with a little more polish and focus makes its way out.

Highs: Varied vocals and a seriously angry vibe that keeps the album going strong

Lows: Lack of overall focus and some misplaced samples and effects

Bottom line: A great little diversion for fans of the hardcore genre and enough pull for fans of other forms of metal to give it a shot at least once.

Rated 3 out of 5 skulls
3 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)