Music Review: The Hell, Sauve Les Requins

theHELL

EPs are tricky mediums to master. On one hand, they offer bands a relatively risk-free vehicle to release new material, and due to the low cost of production, affords the musicians the opportunity to experiment in new directions or with different bands. On the other hand, if you want to make a lasting impression via an EP release, you have a relatively short amount of time in which to leave a mark. Similar to the experimental nature that EPs can reflect, side projects, too, encapsulate positive and negative attributes. Side projects can give musicians a chance to experiment within genres they haven’t before, or give them an opportunity to assert more creative control over the project. Conversely, this experimentation or expanded production input can lead to people operating outside of their talent pool, and lead to some pretty terrible music.

 

It is with this knowledge of the dichotomy of side projects and EPs that I approached the debut 10” EP Sauve Les Requins (French for “Save The Sharks”) from the newly formed punk “supergroup” theHELL, a duo featuring Alkaline Trio frontman Matt Skiba and ex-Angels & Airwaves drummer Atom Willard. Most people will find this album through their knowledge of Skiba, whose work with Alkaline Trio is its own brand of horror-meets-pop-punk madness. Alkaline Trio’s chosen subject matter of murder, darkness, serial killers, and love-driven madness makes for morbid and catchy tunes… can theHELL live up to its frontman’s own past musical demons?

 

theHELLband

matt skiba & atom willard

In two simple words: HELL YES. In only 9 minutes, with four songs that never surpass the 3-minute mark, Sauve Les Requins is a satisfying slice of dark pop-punk. While Matt Skiba has branched out on his own before (Skiba’s solo efforts include a completely solo album called Demos, another side band conversely called Heavens, and an upcoming project called Matt Skiba and the Sekrets), theHell displays Matt Skiba’s usual Alkaline Trio fare at it’s most pared down and primal. Songs about hellfire, murder, and damnation are pretty standard topics for Skiba, but his work here, assisted by Willard’s percussion, is at the highest energy seen in years. While the music is definitely reminiscent of Alkaline Trio’s best output, the piss & vinegar brought by Skiba makes it stand out as distinctive and vital.

 

Sauve starts off with a high-energy kick to the skull with “Gasoline.” “I cannot believe in something / I have never seen, there’s nothing / out there in the ether,” Skiba belts, damning the tease of God & Heaven with a humanistic wail of ennui. Yes, with the first verses of its first track, theHell immediately make good on their name, decrying the divine much like Lucifer defying his creator… had he done so with a pop-punk sensibility.  “Vas Te Faire Foutre” (basically, French for “Go Fuck Yourself”) is a track brimming with malice, with a great “1, 2, fuck you” chorus; Skiba’s lyrics have never been more hostile and in-your-face.  “Nowhere Left” is a short, bass-driven anthem, carried by a fun “whoa-oh-oh-oh” chorus.  The album closes with “R. R. R.,” in which Skiba incessantly commands us to “Regret, repent, repeat and burn.” The album opens and closes within a relatively short time, but for 9 minutes, it blisters and crackles with an evil, kinetic energy.

 

theHELL’s debut release is a short-but-sweet shock to the senses; a brief bloody moment filled with catchy tales of burning souls and blasphemy. Sauve Les Requins is a testament to the power of the side-project and the efficiency of the EP format. Matt Skiba and Atom Willard have given us an all-too-brief taste of theHELL… let’s hope that there is more damnation for us in the future.

 

theHELL’s Sauve Les Requins is available for digital download on iTunes and Amazon, and on limited-edition white vinyl from Merch Lackey (www.merchlackey.com/thehell).

 

Rating: 5/5 ★★★★★ 

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About Nathan_E

Nathan Erdel is a screenwriter. He wrote Headless and some other stuff. He likes beer, metal, pizza, and horror. He has three cats and one wife.

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