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Hellwell: Beyond the Boundaries of Sin

When discussions arise about classic underground metal acts, Manilla Road usually are one of the band that often come up. These guys have been around for so long and generally rank pretty high in the eyes of most fans, yet they've never achieved any sort of real success other than a respected cult status. Manilla Road guitarist/vocalist Mark 'Shark' Shelton likes to keep busy, so he's put this little side project together with keyboard player/bassist E. C. Hellwell (who the band is now named after) and drummer Jonny (Thumper) Benson. Hellwell basically take the Manilla Road style of epic sounding classic metal, dripping with lyrical imagery steeped in Lovecraft, Poe, and Howard, and of course the rough and raw production values that we've come to expect from the Road.

This is pretty heavy stuff from start to finish, with Shelton's raw, beefy guitar riffs & scorching solos working well against Hellwell's commanding Deep Purple/Uriah Heep styled Hammond organ & synth passages. Tunes like "The Strange Case Of Dr. Henry Howard Holmes" and "Eaters of the Dead" rock, and rock hard, led by Shelton's unique vocal style and potent guitar work. Hellwell's swirling Hammond floats around the mix on the pummeling "Keeper's Of The Devil's Inn", while "Deadly Nightshade" has a thrashy feel but is accompanied by spooky organ sounds right out of an old Iron Butterfly or Black Widow album. "Tomb Of The Unnamed One" has a real NWOBHM feel, though I'm not liking Shelton's vocals here as much due to the highly nasally nature, but he goes for a more gruff delivery on the closing epic "End of Days" that works very well alongside the crushing riffage and huge swells of organ & synths. It's not quite progressive metal, but it's damn adventurous and certainly epic, and prog fans will love the keyboard textures on this lengthy piece.

Beyond the Boundaries of Sin is a lot of fun, and you can tell that plenty of love went into this recording. I'm going to deduct a half point for the really rough production value of the album (I can only image how great this would have sounded with some extra dollars pumped into the production) and the fact that Shelton's vocals just don't always work for me. He's got a unique voice for sure, but it's an acquired taste. Otherwise, Hellwell have put together a real epic sounding, classic heavy metal release here that has a lot going for it, and I'd love to hear more from this outfit in the future.

Track Listing
01. The Strange Case Of Dr. Henry Howard Holmes
02. Eaters Of The Dead
03. Keeper's Of The Devil's Inn
04. Deadly Nightshade
05. Tomb Of The Unnamed One
06. The Heart Of Ahriman
07. End Of Days

Added: October 20th 2012
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: High Roller Records
Hits: 1774
Language: english

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