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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

From Hell

Ascent from Hell

Review by Gary Hill

This is extreme metal. I’d also make the argument that it is classical music. Yes, you heard me right. Make no mistake this is heavy and this is noisy and this is metal of the highest order. However, it’s a theatrical concept album and the music here is more classical in structure. By that I mean that the songs are extended pieces of music that are less likely to follow a typical verse, chorus repeat pattern than they are to be built like symphonies, going through massive amounts of change as they grow. Additionally, the whole thing works as one long operatic suite. For that reason, I’d consider this classical music, even though it’s also extreme metal.

The project was started by a guy named “George Anderson.” He’s enlisted some real metal royalty for the album. Paul Bostaph of Slayer handles the drums. Steve Smyth from Nevermore plays lead guitar. Death Angel’s Damien Sisson plays bass.  In an unusual twist Phil Bennett of Starship even plays piano on one song. Those who like their metal extreme are the most obvious audience for this. I have to say, though, I’m not a huge fan of that sub-genre and I really like this a lot.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2014  Volume 3 at

Track by Track Review
Standing at the Mouth of Hell

Some voices and effects create an effect that might make a person think he’s at the edge of Hell. Then pounding heavy metal plods out in a powerful processional.  More screaming and sounds bring us further into Hell.  

The Walking Dead
Powerful pounding metal brings this one into being. Screaming extreme vocals come over the top. The thing is, you can understand what he’s saying. That sets this apart from a lot of that kind of stuff. This is dark, evil and very heavy. There is a bit of atmospheric sound effects stuff at the end that merges this into the next piece.
Soul Crusher
This fires out with ferocious thrashing speed. The vocals are the same as on the previous one – a bit like a cross between Dani Filth and King Diamond. There are some sung vocals on this at times. There are also some musical twists and turns. It’s quite a thrashy number. I love the guitar workout on the instrumental section. Some sound effects and theatrical bits come in at the end.
Psycho Killer
Heavy and percussive, this is a real dark metal workout. It’s gothic and it’s powerful. It’s noisy and yet there are dark, heavy melodies. This is unsettling and yet very cool. More cinematic type stuff comes in at the end and segues it into the next piece.
Eyes of My Dead
This comes in fairly mellow, like a dark metal ballad. After a verse like that, it powers out into some smoking hot thrash. This beast keeps getting shifted and changed. There are theatrical moments that feel like heavier versions of some of Alice Cooper’s stuff. There are pure metal, crushing, sections. This piece is over nine minutes in length and it is a crazed, metal powerhouse. While most of the vocals are of the more extreme variety, there are some sung vocals, too. This drops way down near the end for another theatrical segment.
Nun with a Gun
This pounds in very heavy right out of the gate. We’re taken through all kinds of shifts and changes on a real thrill ride of a song. Other than at the end, where it drops to more theatrical stuff, it never lets up in terms of intensity and energy.
The Church
Neoclassical music opens this.  There is more classically based music before this works out into another crazed kind of thrash thrill ride. This is extreme and works through tons of changes. Of course, by this point in the set, what else would you expect, really? 
Dead Reckoning
In a change this starts with piano and that instrument holds it for a time. After a while, though, it launches back out into more of the trademark powerhouse, extreme metal thrash. Still, most of the vocals on this one are sung. Additionally that piano and other more symphonic elements come in as icing on the cake later. It drops to mellower segments at times, too.
Ascent from Hell
As extreme, furious and just plain crazed as everything here has been, the title track blows all of it away. This is a really insane piece. It’s aggressive and raw and yet technical at the same time. It’s not for the faint of heart. That’s for sure.
The Sleep
As far as I’m concerned, they saved the best for last. Of course, I should note that I’m not a huge fan of extreme metal. So, this one is more mainstream than the rest of the disc, and therefore more in line with my particular tastes. Your mileage may vary. There are still extreme elements here, but overall this is closer to old school heavy metal. It’s also a real powerhouse and the closing section is among the most effective musical moments of the disc.
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