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Friday, September 17, 2021

Review: Hell And Back – A Thousand Years

Label: Pure Steel Records

Date: September 24th, 2021

In the series of Pure Steel Records’ releases I’ve been fortunate enough to review in the past few weeks, there was bound to be one that didn’t impress. This unfortunate title goes to Hell And Back, a five year old commando hailing from Cleveland, Ohio, US of A. And it’s not like they’ve created a bad record. It’s more the trouble that it offers nothing that could make it stand up and be counted in the ever-expanding multiverse of heavy metal supermen.

“A Thousand Years” is a heavy-hitter. When it comes to performance, production, cover art and even the label of choice, this album has everything working in its favor. Seriously, the tough riffing that reminisce the nowadays Judas Priest; melodies spanning from the firmness of Iced Earth to the ingenuity of early Helloween; masculine rhythms that scream Manowar; vocals ranging from the thrashing Metal Church (and beyond) to King Diamond heights (“Egyptian Bride” should be a clear reference), and quite driving at that… Hell And Back have it all! Plus a bunch of thought through guitar solos.

But the plague raging through the entire global scene hasn’t passed them by. And I’m not talking about this virus destroying our lives for the past year and a half.

Call it a hit single, A1 track, foundation stone for every classic album ever published, whatever. At least that one song that will cement the band’s immortal status on the pantheon of metal gods. If I were to compare the record to some particular albums, and likely make a good excuse for Hell And Back in the process, it would be “Nostradamus”, “A Matter of Life and Death”, “My God-Given Right”, “Plagues of Babylon” and such. You should get it now. These are all good records. Made by good (or great) bands. But far from the top where all these bands came from.

In other words, mediocre. Such is the unfortunate destiny of “A Thousand Years”.

Okay, Hell And Back are just getting on their feet. They are a young band, though formed by some fairly experienced individuals, and “A Thousand Years” is their debut album. With that in mind, I can say that they’ve done what was needed of the premiere. The second one must be a big leap forward, lest they drown in the bottomless pit of those who could but never did.

A good, yet easily forgettable record. But I’m still keeping an ear open for the successor.