By: Sarah Moore
During Hella's existence, the band has been touted as Nintendo rock for the noise generation. There's No 666 in Outer Space, (on Mike Patton's label Ipecac Recordings) is no exception to this branding. This disc, full of dismal noise rock and metal instrumentation, features the two Hella originators, Spencer Seim (guitar) and Zach Hill (drums), as well as three newcomers Aaron Ross (vocals), Carson McWhirter (bass, keys) (McWhirter also plays in The Advantage with Seim), and Zach's cousin Josh Hill (guitar).
In several songs the listener gets an impression of an underworld videogame soundtrack, especially in "The Ungrateful Dead" and electronic-heavy "Hand that Rocks the Cradle." From the beginning of the album, Ross' Ronnie James Dio-like vocals fill the frequencies with a righteous condemnation and solipsism ("Don't you know you're going to die all alone" from "World Series"). He spouts fluid lines of bleak affirmations (which he co-wrote with Zach) amidst repetitive, pounding drums and dissonant, math rock flavored guitar riffs. Heavy metal saxophone shrieks and screams appear on "Series" (and two other tracks), as Skerik scourges with his trademark effect-bent saxophonics in moments of heavy jamming.
Zach's metal rolling drums form the basis of many of the tracks, and he sometimes drifts into a trancey techno roll. This fast-paced trend continues throughout the disc, as a brink of psychosis mood fills the space. The Moore Brothers lend their vocal talents to four tracks, most notably with their unison-to-dissonance "Friends Don't Let Friends Win" contributing to the track's intensity. Also striking is Hella's atypical time signatures for most songs. Finally, cellist Nick Julian's (Chad Stockdale Quartet) off-kilter strings fill out the sometimes scattered, asynchronous sound, extending lines with an uncharacteristically smooth edge.
JamBase | Sacramento
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