For those of us who relished and reveled in Perdition Temple‘s last album, 2015’s The Tempter’s Victorious, it has been a long wait, but that wait is nearly over. On Friday of this week, March 27th, Hells Headbangers will release the band’s third album, Sacraments of Descension, on CD, LP, tape, and digitally. It fully deserves that kind of royal release treatment because listening to this record — which we’re giving you the chance to do today — is like sitting in on a masterclass in breathtaking musical demonism.
For the new album Gene Palubicki (co-founder of the legendary Angelcorpse) again makes hellish and harrowing guitar sounds but also returns to vocals, and he was joined by bassist Alex Blume (a longtime member of Ares Kingdom and also Palubicki’s bandmate in Blasphemic Cruelty) and drummer Ron Parmer (of Amon and Brutality). That’s a lot of veteran talent, and it shows in spades on this new album.
We’ve already frothed at the mouth over the album’s first single, “Desolation Usurper“, which provided a great introduction to the album as a whole. The song is downright desolating — and berserk. The riffing savages the eardrums with frenzies of high-speed and rapidly changing fretwork, while the rhythm section assaults the cranium like massed artillery blasting at hyper-speed. It’s an electrifying but completely barbaric attack, accented by an infernally hysterical solo and by Palubicki‘s unhinged vocal cruelty. The song delivers a fair share of spine-shaking grooves, but its most lasting impression is one of crazed, full-throttle mayhem — yet all that chaotic ecstasy is delivered with a technically razor-sharp execution.
The album as a whole extends that electrifying experience in spectacular fashion. It’s a non-stop hurricane of blasting drums, racing gallops, and blazing percussive progressions, coupled with frenetically writhing, gloriously blazing, and fast-darting riffs executed with feverish speed. The band also continue to adroitly punctuate these ravages with fast, skull-busting grooves and to lace them with fret-melting solos, rabid growling barks, roof-lifting screams, and ghastly roars. There’s a feeling of sulphurous abandon in the music, but there are also shifts in the mood into darker and more cruel sensations.
The tracks also display tempo changes — for the most part, those changes are subtle (though there’s an especially big one in “Antichrist”, which turns it into a compulsive headbanger), but still enough to grab attention. The guitars thrash and cut like jet-fueled circle saws, segue into more demonically menacing and sadistic moods, and surge into eruptions of teeth-gnashing chaos. It must also be said that a great many of these pernicious and poisonous riffs are immediately addictive.
Addiction to poison is a risk of the album as a whole, as is addiction to the sheer unbridled blood-rush and nerve-fire you get from listening to it. It’s one of those rare albums that creates a feeling of rampant chaos, but does that with supreme surgical skill, combining fireball ferocity and vacuum-tight instrumental integration. Yes, the music veers and careens like a Formula One vehicle going flat-out with a madman at the wheel, but it’s also so tightly controlled that this rocketing vehicle never winds up in flaming wreckage scattered across the track.
Combining extreme ferocity, incendiary energy, and imperious spirit, and executed with eye-popping technical athleticism and jaw-dropping precision, the album makes for a ginormous adrenaline rush. If you’ve been greedily searching for pure-grade sonic hellfire delivered with mind-mutilating savagery and absolutely explosive power, look no further. Hells Headbangers‘ own publicist also summed it up nicely: “a militant ‘n’ malevolent tornado of souls that consumes fully all who approach”.
Sacraments of Descension was recorded between at Audial Warfare, Very Metal Sound, and M.A.D.F. Studios, with mixing and mastering handled by Jarrett Pritchard (1349, Goatwhore, Nocturnus A.D.) at New Constellation. The absolutely stellar artwork was made by the hand of Slaughtbbath’s Daniel Corcuera.
As noted at the outset, Hells Headbangers is making the album available in a variety of formats, and you can pre-order them via the link below.