Formed in Asheville, North Carolina in 2013, All Hell aren’t exactly the type of band you would expect to discover in such an unassuming and picturesque mountain town. Located in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the main pastimes in Asheville appear to be walking, shopping, eating, drinking beer, and taking in the scenery. Certainly not listening to Black Metal/Deathrock/Punk/horror-influenced Thrash Metal.
Following on from their previous two albums, the independently released The Devil’s Work (2014) and 2015’s The Red Sect (HPGD Productions), third album The Grave Alchemist (Prosthetic) marks a confident leap forward for the band. Produced by Kris Hilbert (The Body) and mixed and mastered by Joel Grind (Toxic Holocaust), the South Eastern trio have never sounded better.
Frontman Jacob Curwen snarls and growls his way through lyrics about madness, zombies, castles and vampires while thrashing his guitar to death at the same time, while the rhythm section of Erik Ballantyne (bass) and (relatively) new drummer Kurt Henderson distinguish themselves admirably.
Beginning with some almost ritualistic drumming, ‘Grave Alchemy’ kicks things off with speed and groove, with ‘Necrosophia’ continuing in the same vein. ‘Wed The Night’ could very easily be the drooling, mutated spawn of ‘To Walk The Night’ by Samhain, ‘Vampiric Lust’ is pure Venom, while ‘The Castle’ and the quite superb closer ‘I Am The Mist’ are, at least in part, heavily influenced by Satyricon.
As the album progresses, and much like their previous two records, the band’s many influences become increasingly clear with each song. Emperor, Celtic Frost, Misfits, Bathory, Motorhead, and Black Sabbath all show their faces in one way or another, as well as nods to a number of other acts and genres along the way.
Unfortunately, because of this, the band do suffer a little from not possessing a clearly defined identity of their own, sometimes sounding a little too close to Toxic Holocaust for comfort. However, there are more than enough signs to show, especially in songs like ‘Memory Tomb’ and the Psychobilly-infused instrumental ‘Elixir’, that while still in the early stages of their career, it’s surely only a matter of time before that changes.