Hell Starts With An H - Review
Many people will recognize the name Vasi Vallis from NamNamBulu and Frozen Plasma. Reaper was originally intended as an industrial side-project, but with the split of NamNamBulu, it become a central focus and we have here the debut album. Having been familiar with the other projects previously named, it was a bit surprising to find such a hard-edged release from this artist. Just from the first glance you can tell this is going to be a packed album with 12 original tracks and five additional remixes. Featured guests include vocals from Mark Jackson (VNV Nation) and Johan Van Roy (Suicide Commando). The booklet is small but contains some cool artwork and a prolog (in german) for some added details which is always nice.
The packaging reflects well on the content of the music (fire burning, bone mask, title, etc) which is a throbbing electro-industrial combination of music. Much of it is instrumental going back to his acid-trance days, but remaining true to the harder industrial rhythms and distortions that rivetheads will enjoy. After a short theatrical intro, "Urnensand" kicks off the album with female spoken word being the closest thing to vocals on the track over the driving beat and electronics. This sets the mood and the stage for much of the rest of the album with tracks that go heavy on the beats, the occasional grinding guitar, lots of various electronics and instrumental pieces with a number of samples throughout.
Tracks that really stand out as key pieces that fans should really enjoy include "Twisted Trophy Hunter", "Execution of Your Mind", "Weltfremd" and a few key instrumental pieces like "Memento Mori", "Totengraber 07" and "Ancient Tragedy". That doesn't mean the others are not good, but as I've listened to the album each time, these tracks grabbed my attention through various details.
The first use of vocals (besides samples) appears on "Twisted Trophy Hunter" with Mark Jackson taking on the task. It's well done and not entirely expected as the music is really driving and so the vocals add a certain edge to it. Of course there's also the female vocal sample "Twisted Trophy Hunter, too gruesome to believe... is this reality" which is a nice detail and sort of becomes the core of the piece. There are no additional credits given for any guest vocalists on "Execution of Your Mind", so we have to assume that Vasi actually picks up the microphone on this piece with the standard harsh-distorted vocals that many industrial bands use. "Weltfremd" seems like a piece right out of Suicide Commando's discography (Axis of Evil specifically since a vocal line is used by permission from that album). However, though you might expect that it to sound like a rip-off, it actually comes together well with the music for this piece, creating a mostly new and unique track that fans should enjoy.
The final three instrumentals mentioned above stand out with their overall power, choice of vocal samples and various unique instruments used that add a nice depth to the pieces. Of course, like many instrumentals, if you're not in the right setting after a few minutes they might start to grow a little old, but I found these held my attention very well.
The remixes are mainly just an added bonus as they don't really provide anything "new" per se. They are each a different twist on the original track, but don't improve on them in any way, or modify them to make them more preferable for the club or other environments. With the close of these mixes we wrap up the album and I think that most industrial fans (especially those that enjoy instrumentals) will be satisfied.
Label: COP International