Hell to Pay – Bliss (Review)

Hell to PayHell to Pay are a US hardcore band and this is their debut album.

Here we have 29 minutes of hardcore mixed with elements of metal, grindcore, death metal, and crust. About a third of the running time is taken up by the last track, leaving most of the other songs as short and belligerently aggressive blasts of violence. However, there’s more depth here than there usually is for this type of thing.

There’s a whiff of Swedish death metal about this, which is always something I like in this kind of fast, violent band. 90s deathgrind is also an influence, lending a savage edge to proceedings. Aggressive hardcore is at the heart of all of this, with an old-school appeal as well as a more modern delivery. The band wrap all of this up in a contemporary approach to extremity, and deliver an album that knocks you down and makes sure you don’t get up again. Mix Entombed, Integrity, Carcass, Trap Them, and Nails together and you’ll have an idea of where Hell to Pay are coming from.

Blistering speed and metallic groove are the mainstays of the band’s sound, with a ferocious punk energy coming through in most of the material. Despite the rampant brutality on this album, the band are more than just this; different ideas, samples, and occasional experimental sounds and pieces are included in the running time, adding texture and character to the music. Hell to Pay like to be playfully creative with their art, and this comes across well in the tracks, enhancing and improving them.

The vocals are largely ugly and nasty, (like the music), but in addition to the scathing shouts, growls, and screams, other styles are used too here and there, injecting additional personality into the songs.

Intense and brutal, but also with decent variety and charisma, Bliss is an impressive and extremely enjoyable release.

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