8th July 2014 – Prosthetic Records
01. Take Me Out
02. Old Jacks, New Jacks
04. Everybody Dies
05. Bangers & Mosh
06. We Love Dicks
07. Deal With It
08. Check This Out
09. Speed Shit Up
10. We Handle Shit
13. I’ll Snap Your Fucking Head Clean Off
Self-righteous, tough guy hardcore was always going to be a rich seam to be mined for satire. Just as Goldie Looking Chain did for gangster rap and The Day Today did for the evening news, The Hell are continuing the great British tradition of ripping the piss out of people who take themselves far too seriously with second album Groovehammer.
With their identities obscured behind bandanas and pseudonyms, The Hell are free to let loose on whatever they damn well feel like. Picking up where last year’s debut You’re Listening To The Hell left off, the band waste no time in proving that they could not be more in-your-face without setting up home in your nostrils.
Second track “Old Jacks, New Jacks” kicks off with a cry of “Have that!”, in a manner that usually prefaces someone getting a pint glass in the face in a barroom brawl – and the final track makes its intentions perfectly clear with its title “I’ll Snap Your Fucking Head Clean Off“. However, closer examination of the lyrics to that final stomper reveal a myriad of references to chocolate bars, which shows the band’s true colours creeping through.
The simple fact that The Hell are such a divisive proposition underscores how successfully they lampoon the genre. Their stripped back, no-nonsense, zero subtlety approach is enough to seemingly convince many that they really mean it, but, instead their snotty belligerence is obviously drawn equally from a love of the music and an exasperation with the ridiculous baggage that often accompanies it. Possibly the most artful example of this, whilst not necessarily the strongest song, is “We Love Dicks“, which completely fronts out the lazy, knee-jerk homophobia that perennially infects hardcore.
There’s nothing remotely ‘clean’ about Groovehammer. Every note from the guitar is distorted, every word of the lyrics is bellowed and there is more creative swearing than you can shake a ratbastard fuckstick at. Frantic and furious from beginning to end, even people not normally offended by such things may start to find it all a little wearing.
When everything falls into place, Groovehammer is a tremendous amount of fun. The title track, the oddly successful marriage of Zen-like fatalism and outright thuggery that is “Everybody Dies” and “Bangers and Mosh” are undeniably enjoyable blasts.
However, an uncomfortably large proportion of the album feels flimsy and rushed. Perhaps that is at least part of the point, and The Hell’s music is supposed to be immediate and ultimately disposable – but when it clicks, their cartoon violence is so much fun it does feel like a pity the overall quality isn’t higher.
But with that being said, Groovehammer appeared fewer than 12 months after their debut, so it is probably reasonable to assume that if you are drawn in by down-tuned, two-string riffing and weapons-grade swearing that doesn’t take itself too seriously, then you won’t have to wait too long for the next batch.