(NCS writer Andy Synn waxes viciously eloquent in this review of the 2012 album by an NCS favorite — Norway’s Hellish Outcast.)
Ah Norway. Home of black metal. Land of beauty and darkness… Where exactly are you pulling all these killer death/thrash bands from right now?! Just off the top of my head, the last few years have seen the return to life of Cobolt 60, and some truly awesome records by The Konsortium and The Wretched End. And now you can add Hellish Outcast to the mix as well.
While The Konsortium keep the black metal quotient pretty high with a heavy dose of dark, esoteric weirdness, and The Wretched End will always have sonic ties to Emperor, due to Samoth’s inimitable writing and playing style, Hellish Outcast have taken several further steps away from the sound of their homeland, creating a sound that’s all knives and knuckledusters, delivered with a cruel sneer and a priapic swagger.
Not only do Hellish Outcast not do black metal, they also don’t do nice. Or comfortable. Or anything less aggressive than a rabid pit-bull that’s been force-fed a diet of sand and barbed wire. In fact, this album is so damned aggressive, so utterly hate-filled, that it should come with a warning label along the lines of:
Danger – the levels of testosterone and aggression on this album could cause permanent damage to your underlying genetic structure.
Feeding the fire of full-force death metal with some blood-red, thrash-injected fuel, “The View, So Disgusting” gets things off with a hyperactive exhibition of kick-drum chaos and jerky, crippling riff-hammers. An eruption of blasting drums and a merciless, industrialised guitar tone sets the perfect stage for the utterly sadistic vocals and dissonant gang shouts. The malevolent closing bars, with their hanging chords and bleak, acoustic nuances, end the track with a display of sick melody, providing a momentary breather before its violent conclusion.
The title track, “Your God Will Bleed”, follows with a thunderous uppercut of nasty, jagged riffs and pounding blast-beats, like Suffocation trying to fuck their way down to hell, with Exodus providing the beers and bitches. It’s a tumbling, dizzying, death-spiral of a song, full of screaming voices and rusty, sawing guitars, with a bass tone thick enough to choke on and a brutish, grinding conclusion that pitilessly stamps down its alpha-male dominance.
Fans of The Crown (and if you’re not a fan of The Crown I think you’ve come to the wrong website) will appreciate the fanatical attack of “Djinn (Iblis)”, with its crushing, chug-heavy six-string attack and swerving, side-swiping structure. From its bleeding-edge, malevolent intro it staggers into a berserk rush of twisted, Cannibal Corpse-esque pinched riffs and diesel-fuelled thrashing chords, catchy as syphilis, but ten times as virulent.
With a song title like “Genocide” you should know not to expect puppies and rainbows. Instead we get hellhounds and hellfire, a rampaging display of devastating, technical guitars, sharpened to a razor’s edge, and the sort of drum attack that can level a standing-structure at 200 yards. Spinning and contorting through a series of maddening twists and turns, out of nowhere it breaks into a screaming banshee solo, followed by a series of hanging, suicidal chords, and a conclusion of frenzied, throat-shredding screams
“Muffled Screams” is an ugly, filth-drenched number that mashes together stuttering, fire-and-brimstone riffage with a despairing, alcohol-drenched chorus melody, and a stomping semi-industrial beatdown. The latter half is just gruesome, as bloody droplets of pitch-black melody drip like vomit from the crippling, angular riffs that bulldoze and blast the listener into submission.
The martial stomp and compulsive groove of “Forget” builds into a series of staccato, nail-gun shots of angular guitar and back-breaking kick drums, while the glass-chewing vocals spit their hate with blind fury. The song is like someone clawing away at an old wound, never allowing it to heal, opening it up for further infection and decay. Right at the end the band hit an artery and all hell breaks loose, unleashing a viscous flow of black bile and harsh, crimson melody, spewing forth in series of frantic, thrashing death-spasms.
The gut-rot stomp and grind of “Ten Times Stronger” comes straight from the playbook marked The Great Southern Trendkill, all titanic, cold-steel chords and iron-lunged growls. Fermenting a macho, serial-killer vibe, the band up the ante with some smoky, vocals, dripping with disdain and hectic series of jerky, unpredictable rhythms. The track’s spiralling, addictive solo sits atop a sludgy, crawling rhythm section, while the conclusion of the song delivers haymakers of bone-crunching power that ooze with malicious intent.
“You Will Scream” doesn’t last long, overwhelming the listener with its sheer out-and-out brutality. Painfully direct and seemingly ready to fly apart at a moment’s notice, it’s like an aural mugging, knocking you down and stealing your dignity, over before you’ve even processed what’s happening.
Ready yourself for some whiplash before you push play on “Face Forced Down”, as it kicks in with a whirlwind of sand-blasting riffs and a crazed, barked vocal refrain. Initial damage done, it drops into a cocky, confident strut with a nasty, shit-eating grin plastered all over its face. For all its violence, it’s also one of the catchiest songs on the record, carving itself into your flesh with its knife-edge guitar riffs and searing solo work. It stabs and tears, rapes and murders its way into the listener’s consciousness without remorse, then puts them out of their misery with a massive closing breakdown of filthy, chugging guitars and ear-splitting snare-beats.
Closer “Hubris” has more of that Crowbar-style snorting, stomping groove, topped off with gravelly, guttural vocals and a melodic undercurrent which flows like a river of concentrated evil. It’s a brooding number, ready to break bones and bloody noses to prove its point, scattering in some rippling leads and rumbling kick-rolls here and there to keep the fight flowing in the right direction. Ominous, reverberant harmonics perch like vultures atop the track’s monolithic, lumbering riffs, adding their devilish melody to the song’s steel-plated hull as it staggers, wounded and dangerous, towards the end.
I’d hesitate to call this album refined; it’s too harsh, and too raw for that. What it is, what it really is, is a sonic powerhouse, a perfectly designed metallic predator. There’s no extraneous fat. No weakness. Just a stabbing, biting, relentless killing machine of buzz-saw riffs and jack-hammer drums, ready to fight tooth and claw against anyone and everyone. Pick your side very carefully…
EDITOR’S NOTE: We’ve been waiting for this album for a good long while. We were featuring songs from it at this site back in May 2011 (here). We’re also big fans of the band’s individual members, whose other bands we’ve covered here before: Thebon (Keep of Kalessin‘s vocalist), Mads Lillevedt (former drummer for the awesome Byfrost), bassist Max Morbid (BREED), and guitarist Martin Legreid (66Crusher).
The album is now finally out via Transcend Music and can be ordered at this location. It’s also available on Amazon mp3 and iTunes. The one nice thing about the delay is that Hellish Outcast are finished writing their next album. You can track the progress via their Facebook page.
Now, how about a Hellish Outcast song?