David Bower performing Live at the MFN club in Nottingham
|Years active||1982–1987, 2008-present|
|Associated acts||Race Against Time, Paralex, Sabbat|
|Past members||Dave G. Halliday
Hell are an English heavy metal band from Derbyshire, formed in 1982 from the remaining members of bands Race Against Time and Paralex. Due to a series of unfortunate and tragic events, the band originally folded in 1987, but were generally regarded as being many years ahead of their time, and have been cited as an influence by many notable musicians and bands of the genre. They were amongst the first bands to wear proto-corpse paint as part of their stage show, which features hysterical ranting from a Gargoyle- adorned pulpit, along with the use of a pyrotechnic exploding Bible which caused outrage amongst the clergy when it originally appeared in 1983.
Although they were largely ignored by the media and record companies in the 1980s, their music became known through the underground tape trading phenomenon, and the band achieved a degree of cult status. In 2008 they reunited, and were signed by Nuclear Blast. Their first full-length album, Human Remains, was released May 2011. The album topped at No. 46 on the German album chart in its first week of release.
Early years (1982-1987)
They signed to the Belgian label Mausoleum, but two weeks prior to the recording of their debut album, the label collapsed into bankruptcy. Kev Bower subsequently quit the band. He was briefly replaced by Sean Kelley, though Hell split up soon afterwards, which led to the suicide of Dave Halliday by carbon monoxide poisoning.
Dave Halliday taught Andy Sneap (later to form heavy metal band Sabbat) to play guitar and Sneap mentions Hell as one of his main influences. Sneap subsequently went onto become a world-renowned record producer, with over 100 albums and a Swedish Grammy Award to his credit.
The remaining original members of Hell reunited in 2008 to finally record their album which was entitled Human Remains. Sabbat members Martin Walkyier and Andy Sneap agreed to play on the album to replicate Dave Halliday's vocals and guitar tracks respectively, with Sneap also acting as the producer. Although Walkyier completed recording vocals for the entire album, the band have stated that no-one was really happy with the outcome since Walkyier's voice was so distinctive, and the result sounded "more like an unreleased set of Sabbat songs". Kev Bower's brother David (who is known as David Beckford in his career as a stage and television actor) was invited to do a voiceover for the song "Plague And Fyre" and subsequently joined the band as lead vocalist, re-recording all the lead vocal parts. Sneap subsequently also joined the band as their permanent second guitarist.
The new lineup played their first gig at the MFN club in Nottingham on 20/05/2011, playing songs from Human Remains and also Race Against Time's "Bedtime" as a tribute to David Halliday. This was rapidly followed up by a run of festival shows in Europe and the UK, including Metalfest Open Airs in Switzerland, Germany and Austria, Rockstad Falun in Sweden, UK's Download Festival, Tuska Open Air Metal Festival in Finland, Summer Breeze Open Air in Germany, and Bloodstock Open Air in the UK, for which they received the "2011 Best Mainstage Performance" vote. The band then went onto perform on the Sweden Rock Cruise, and closed out 2011 by having the Human Remains album being awarded Sweden Rock Magazine's "2011 Album Of The Year", as well as attaining position No. 6 in the Metal Hammer 'Best Of 2011' list. The album also attained "Best Of 2011" accolades on many internet webzines, as well as being nominated "2011 Album Of The Year" on the Bloodstock Open Air user forum.
Hell opened their 2012 show run with a mainstage appearance at the Hammerfest in Prestatyn, North Wales. This was followed by the band gaining a prestigious support slot with Accept for the whole of their "Stalingrad" European tour, which started at Le Bataclan in Paris on April 6. The band were also nominated for a Metal Hammer "Golden Gods" award in the magazine's "Metal As F*ck" category. Numerous additional European shows were also played, including the Rock Hard Festival at the German Gelsenkirchen Amphitheatre, with this show being filmed and subsequently broadcast by WDR TV on the long-running Rockpalast mainstream TV show. Scandinavian shows included headlining appearances at the Muskelrock and Metal Magic festivals in Sweden and Denmark respectively, along with a Sweden Stage appearance at the Sweden Rock Festival. The band also featured in the July 2012 issue of the UK's Metal Hammer magazine, in which they appeared in a 3-page article. Hell's 2012 tour run also included their first shows in Eastern Europe at the Masters of Rock (festival) in the Czech Republic and Metalcamp in Slovenia, along with appearances at the Alcatraz (BE), Zwarte Cross (NL), and Into The Grave (NL) festivals. They closed out the year with headlining appearances in Dublin (IRE), a town festival at Molins de Rei near Barcelona (ES), and played their final show of 2012 at Rommelrock in Maasmechelen (BE), thus completing the 'Human Remains' tour run which had taken the band to no less than 16 different countries. Hell also entered the studio late in the year to commence work on the follow-up album to Human Remains.
By the beginning of 2013, Kev Bower and Andy Sneap had completed demo recordings for the majority of songs which would appear on the band's sophomore album, with recording proper set to commence in the Spring. Since no early demo recordings were this time available to fill a bonus disc, the band elected to record a live DVD as a bonus complement to the album, and this was shot and recorded at the band's first 2013 show at Derby Assembly Rooms (UK) on February 23. The sellout event also unveiled the band's full Church Of Hell stage set and pyrotechnic show, with fans travelling from 13 different countries to attend. The band played a headline show at the R-Mine Metalfest (BE) and also appeared at Turock Open Air (DE), Hammer Open Air (FIN), Bang Your Head Open Air (DE) and made a return mainstage appearance at Bloodstock Open Air as one of the most heavily requested bands on the BOA user forum, and once again won the 'Best Mainstage Performance' vote. It was subsequently discovered that technical problems with the DVD recording at Derby had made some material unsalvageable, so additional footage was added from the band's appearance at this festival.
It was announced in August that the second album would be entitled 'Curse and Chapter'. To coincide with the album release, Hell were subsequently announced as being principal support for Amon Amarth and Carcass on the whole of their extensive European tour, taking in 25 shows in 13 countries, opening in Oberhausen (DE) on November 7.
The first three months of 2014 saw the band on a temporary hiatus as Andy Sneap had production commitments in the USA with Accept and Exodus. The first large-scale show of 2014 was announced as being at Hyde Park in London, playing alongside Black Sabbath. The band played a warm-up show to this event at The Rescue Rooms in Nottingham. It was also announced on April 28 that the band would be supporting Saxon on a run of UK and Irish shows in November and December, preceded by a headlining appearance at Rommelrock (BE) and a main slot at the Leyendas Del Rock event in Alicante (ES). Hell were also added to the lineup for the 2014 Wacken Open Air festival. Andy Sneap and Kev Bower also took to the saddle for charity on behalf of the band, participating in a 260 km cycle ride from London to Download Festival to raise money for the NSPCC, the Teenage Cancer Trust and Nordoff Robbins.
Hell are most often described as a NWOBHM band, although they strongly distance themselves from this movement, citing that the NWOBHM was already in rapid decline by the time the band actually formed. Their progressive musical style incorporates elements of thrash, power, symphonic, gothic, speed, doom and black metal, encompassing great variety, and with no two songs ever sounding exactly alike. Underlying lyrical themes in much Hell material focuses on the occult and the darker sides of human nature. Typical themes include a distaste for organised religion, alien abduction, political imprisonment, mental illness, and historical events such as the Black Death and the Bubonic Plague. Although primarily guitar-driven, the band's sound is fleshed out by the use of keyboards and digital sampling to add depth and texture to the material. Their approach to songwriting is often unorthodox, with numerous complex tempo, time signature and key changes, along with a signature series of atmospheric, theatrical interludes and introductions to their songs.
- David Bower - vocals (2010–present)
- Kev Bower - guitar, keyboard, vocals (1982–1987, 2008–present)
- Tim Bowler - drums (1982–1987, 2008–present)
- Andy Sneap - guitar (2008–present)
- Tony Speakman - bass (1982–1987, 2008–present)
- Dave G. Halliday - vocals, guitar (1982–1987) (deceased)
- Sean Kelley - guitar (1987)
- Save Us from Those Who Would Save Us (1983, Self-financed by the band and released on their own 'Deadly Weapon' label, also included "Deathsquad")
- Save Us (2011, Nuclear Blast - also included "On Earth as It Is in Hell")
- The Age Of Nefarious (2013, Nuclear Blast)
- The Greatest Show On Earth - As It Is In Hell (2013, 'Curse And Chapter' bonus disc)
- Deathsquad (1983) - Shot in Derbyshire and at Wingfield Manor
- On Earth as It Is in Hell (2011) - Shot at Wingfield Manor
- Hell - Nuclear Blast
- Human Remains at AllMusic
- Human Remains at charts.de
- METAL FORCES No 25, August 15, 1987
- http://www.cackblabbath.co.uk/2011/05/21/hell-live-at-the-mfn-club-nottingham/ CackBlabbath Review, May 21st 2011
- http://www.metaltraveller.com/en/gigs/hell/paris_2012.html Metal Traveller concert Review, April 6, 2012
- "AMON AMARTH: Deceiver of the Gods European headline tour announced". metalblade.com. Retrieved 22 August 2013.