April 12, 2017

All Hell - The Grave Alchemist

By Karen A. Mann. It’s a long way from the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Carpathians, and the only “castle” in the area is an opulent tourist attraction that was built less than 150 years ago. Still, Asheville trio All Hell evoke an ancient gothic creepiness on the band’s third release, The Grave Alchemist.
By Karen A. Mann.


It’s a long way from the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Carpathians, and the only “castle” in the area is an opulent tourist attraction that was built less than 150 years ago. Still, Asheville trio All Hell evoke an ancient gothic creepiness on the band’s third release, The Grave Alchemist. While showing promise on two earlier, punkier releases, All Hell leaps ahead with a more mature and varied sound on this release. Ripping through 12 caustic blasts of blackened thrash, all of which are under five minutes long, the band spins a ghostly centuries-long story of alchemy, lust, and vampirism.

The morbid tale begins with “Grave Alchemy,” whose riff-heavy intro evolves into a thrashing ripper that displays the band’s influences (first-wave black metal, D-beat, early deathrock) for all to hear. There’s a castle and a dragon. “Secrets of blood passed down,” and “the wisdom of all time, ripped from the dead.” Before the Alchemist’s eyes, a deadly shape begins to rise.

Photos © John Mourlas. All rights reserved.

The band sticks fairly closely to this toxic formula for the remainder of the album, occasionally slowing down and replacing the demonic snarl with creepy clean singing. Blackened fury interplays with catchy hooks throughout. A tale unfolds of burnt offerings, deadly lust, and a vampire rising from the undead to exact his bloody vengeance.

The album closes with its best and longest song, “I Am the Mist,” a mid-tempo headbanger that almost forces you to put your fist in the air and chant along with singer/guitarist J. Curwen as he spits out the words “I am the mist!” over and over again. The year is young, but I’m pretty sure The Grave Alchemist will end up on my year-end best-of list.

Tagged with 2017, All Hell, black metal, John Mourlas, Karen A. Mann, Prosthetic Records, punk, thrash metal
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