Hell To Pay – Bliss (2018) REVIEW

Hell to Pay‘s debut EP ‘EP1’ was a noisome hardcore bicycle kick to the chest in 2014 with grindcore-tinged hardcore punk and tripped-out transitional moments. It was a jump up and outside the box for folks who’d followed these Philadelphia area metalcore/hardcore musicians from project to project, and a far cry from bassist Aaron Heard‘s involvment chuggy beatdown/deathcore bands Jesus Piece and Hysterian. The style here is lightly intended as Entombed-core but where Hell to Pay self-differentiates is within the hellish pulse of grindcore and experimental noise. Though the album’s sound collage thins a bit when their sampled rhetoric takes the place of lyrical opportunities, ‘Bliss’ is an energetic, death-mutated, and fully moshable “-core” release.

I’m an easy mark for 80’s grindcore chaos and tape noise but I have a very serious allergy to deathcore and post-90’s metalcore styles and to Hell to Pay‘s credit they’ve found a balance that never mindlessly chugs its way out of a corner. ‘Bliss’ largely channels and hones the spirit of long-dead and far less experimental Crowpath on this album yet the true grindcore edge of Hell to Pay leans more towards early Brutal Truth strained through ‘Through Silver in Blood’. The more time I spent with ‘Bliss’ I found myself more attached to atmospheric tracks like “Runaway” and the 9+ minute title track if only because they gave pause amidst a blurry set of furious hardcore songs driven by an all too familiar guitar tone.

The strongest stuff here in terms groovable riffs and hardcore/grindcore bursts isn’t interesting for the sake of innovative musicianship or variation so much as it is remarkable for it’s energetic delivery. “Thrive” is a windmill punching blaster with one hell of a death-groove. The scraping fit of “Void” has an electrifying build and release personified within grindcore. The title track serves as an effective finale but also highlights many of my gripes with ‘Bliss’ as a debut. While I appreciate the use of sample speeches and propaganda tunes and the messaging is clear, there is a messiness to it that takes too much attention away from the music. The metalcore/grindcore Amebix lurch of the track seems to serve the sample when it should be the other way around. The two elements don’t find a reason to co-exist, as much as I appreciate sampled propaganda and the atmosphere it brings.

I can’t knock the conceptual vision of hardcore/grindcore mutants dolled up with death metal guitar power and death/grind riffing seeping into their sound. I loved their 2014 EP for it’s more straight forward style but this evolution is going some awesome places and the production and recording are immaculate. To get the bigger picture, the general scope of ‘Bliss’ I would recommend sampling “Thrive” and “Runaway”, from there you should be able to decide if you’re all-in or not.

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Artist Hell to Pay
Type Album
Released March 16, 2018
BUY/LISTEN on their Bandcamp! Follow Hell to Pay on Facebook
Genres
Hardcore Punk, Grindcore, Experimental Noise

Emptied of memories. 3.25/5.0

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