Back in Hell Review (Rock Queen Reviews)

11 tracks long, ‘Back In Hell’ is the debut solo release by Steve Blower (Hamerex).

Following the announcement of Hamerex going on hiatus, in June 2018, work on ‘BIH’ began. Initially a 6 track, originally titled ‘Facilis Descensus Averno’, it later grew into a full-length album, updated and improved. Funded with assistance from fans, post announcement, during August 2018, via pre-orders, its planned release was delayed, by 5 months, due to Steve suffering serious drumming related wrist injuries.

All music is written and performed by Steve, who also created the cover art. It was co-mixed and mastered by Andy Firth.

Scheduled release is TBC, but fans can still purchase a special edition ‘BIH’ album, featuring an ‘FDA’ disc, through Bandcamp.

Back In Hell – Instant hit of metal power! Very classic sounding riff and Priest-esque vocals. Highly melodic, from the start. Palpable passion and plenty of speed. An involving listen. Slightly flat in places, but some tricky notes in there and generally, he hits them well.

The Whisperer – Straight in there, with melodic riffage and rhythm). Faster paced, but not by much. A little flat here and there, again, but as before, he achieves some awkward tones and the passion’s still present and audible. The accompaniments fit well, the rhythm’s always precise and there’s an easy warmth about it.

What’s Left Of Me – Drums introing, right in there, with some well handled vocals. It’s very much a traditional metal sound, with a strong power/speed emphasis. Stacked with melody. Very well emoted. Good placing of accompaniments. Timing spot on. It just gets stronger and stronger, as it goes on. Loads of conviction there. Closing on a very powerful riff melody.

The Prophet – Darker, bass intro, with a slower drum beat in the background. Merging together, in sync, the mood’s laid out clearly. Immediately atmospheric, the vocals sound increasingly comfortable now. Memorable beat. Great riff solo. Cleverly structured, in a more instrumental fashion, every aspect has its day. Definitely catchy and ending on a rhythmic riff and drum hit.

Arabian Nights – Bang! That intro plainly echoes W.A.S.P.’s ‘War Cry’ and it works extremely well. Adding that well established chasing pace, so beloved of many a metal legend, it proves its melodic chops, in every capacity. Keeping that momentum, with complete seamlessness). The riffs really come into their own here and close the track, with a single cymbal hit.

Out Of This World – Sudden leap into Celtic sounding riffs, but it’s fresh and it works! Massively melodic emphasis here. A real standout track. More so for being fully instrumental. Energised and filled with pizzazz).

The Midas Touch – Heaviness opens with thunderous drumming and matching riffage. Steady rhythm, great pitches working their way in there, suffusing it with tension and elation. Really well arranged track, giving the riffs the full opportunity to shine. Alternating between that thunder heavy sound and the lighter soaring quality. Again, it’s another instrumental and this time, the drums are carefully interspersed. Steadily gravitating to the finish, it leaves a positive impression.

Twisted Evolution – Low down bass intro, with some precision riff shrieking. Moving into the flow, with that darkened heaviness, so addictive to metallers). Guaranteed crowd involvement, as a live track. Engaging and accessible, easy to follow. It just flows). Vocals skilfully matched with the tone and timbre of the accompaniments. Gorgeous melodic riffage. Good spaces between the drum beats. A very natural feel about this. Artfully conveyed dark mood and atmosphere. Fading out on a mid-paced riff.

The Slain/Ties That Bind – Opening with a sinister heartbeat and a similarly poignant riff. Vocals painting a clear picture. Very visual. Almost alarmingly so. Moving into faster, heavier territory now. Effective lyrics. Sound values just as impressive as the rest. Slightly Dickinson-esque vocals here. Very open, courageous lyrical themes. Racing riffing speeds it up, with absolute precision. That timing’s just an ace. Real power in this track. Ending on a very Maiden-esque vocal and gentle riff, followed by a return to the ominous heartbeat.

Haunting Misery – Instantaneous riff power and melody intro’s. Great involving pace. You’ll recognise a line in here from Skid Row’s ‘Psycho Love’, with just a brief alteration). Speeding up again, the riffs take centre stage once more, galloping along, in pursuit, like Horseman Vikings. Running on into the distance, that’s how it ends.

The World Is Ablaze – Drumming intro, much in the vein of Priest’s ‘Judas Rising’ and ‘Ram It Down’. Continuing in the same way, it’s an impressive demo of Steve’s abilities and his vocals really come forward here, in all their glory. Holding those notes so well, it closes on a similarly Priest-esque section, combining vocals and accompaniments, including some cymbal action, to top it off.

Overall – Stunningly good performance, ‘BIH’ is an impressive solo and its audio production is flawless. Consistent delivery throughout, enabling listeners to access the mood of the tracks, through catchy melodies and carefully crafted arrangements. Resonant, as a classic, old school sound, with passion and conviction burning throughout it, ‘BIH’ should definitely whet the appetites of all true heavy metal fans.

9/10 *********

For fans of Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, W.A.S.P., Skid Row.


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