It is not often we get a decent length of time to review an album. Usually, you are looking at two weeks before release, so you have to make a connection quickly or not at all. I received Hell’s Addiction’s “Broken” well over a month ago, and I have played it that often it is like an old friend, not that I needed a lengthy amount of time to make a decision on this, as after the first play it went straight on repeat, and has remained there for some time.
I can do nothing but describe this as one of the best releases of this year, to date. It really did blow me away. You see, I am no youngster, and “Broken” tapped into an era I grew up in. For me, the 80s was the best decade for rock and metal. It took the music in to so many diverse directions, and I pretty much grabbed on to every little tentacle that sprouted and was referred to as metal. I know most people will think hair metal when you mention the 80s, and although I wasn’t averse to a “little” bit of this, it was more the obscure and ‘outside the box’ different I went in for, and this is where Hell’s Addiction come in.
They have that 80s swagger and attitude that was still hanging around from the punk days. Listening to this album, you could swear they grew up standing outside the Whiskey A Go Go in LA until they were old enough, or clever enough to get some fake ID, and you could bet your ass they would have been in there each and every night, sleeping in stripper’s apartments during the day.
Hell’s Addiction quote influences of Guns ‘N’ Roses, AC/DC, and Motley Crüe. The only one they come close to, for me, are the early days of Crüe. The grime, the rawness, and passion that sent them on to superstardom, but eroded that edge they once had. No, for me, this band resonate far more closely to band’s like W.A.S.P, Bang Tango, Skid Row, and Love/Hate, with a huge dollop of NWOBHM. We are basically talking about the metal cauldron that my teenage years were made from. The cast that set me forever on a love of all things fucking heavy.
“Broken” opens with “Hell’s Bells”. Okay, it doesn’t really, but listen to that opening riff on “Backs To The Wall”. This song made me sit up to attention the first time I listened to it. It has Skid Row’s balls and fast riffle, and combined with Ben Sargent’s raspy, spat out vocals, it is 80s heaven.
“Blue lights” just ran a tingle right down my spine. Something that only music, and a very few songs, can do. It starts like a sublime ballad, with a lazy roll on guitar, and Ben shows he isn’t just an angry vocalist, but it is when it kicks in all hell breaks loose. We get a full throttle guitar attack to the senses, and a song that rattles around your head long after that stop button has been pressed. With the title track, we get a tip of the hat to one of the most underrated bands in rock, Tesla. If I did not know better it could be Jeff Keith screaming at me throughout. This song put me in such a happy place, I played the full Tesla back catalogue straight afterwards. It is a masterpiece, and one I am looking forward to hearing live when they play Wildfire Festival later this month.
Now, with a title like “Get The Fuck”, you cannot expect a soppy love song, and you will not be disappointed. I am sure they dropped the word ‘out’ from the end due to the cracking Skid Row Track, a track that influences the attitude throughout this song. It is fast, abusive, and basically a foul-mouthed hooker on speed. “Holiday” has that AC/DC/Airborne, slow and spaced out start. The profanities keep flying, and the punky, balls-out, kiss my ass swagger oozes from your sound system. This is a festival song, if ever I heard one. “Lost” keeps up the pace, before breaking down to some echo vocals, and it slows down enough to finally appreciate the production on this record. There is a nice balance between the full on and the more restful sound (well, as restful as Hell’s Addiction are going to get). There is a great Slash sounding solo pounded out, but the thing that stands out in this one is the chorus.
Even the song title ” Passion For Power” screams of NWOBHM. The solo rings of early Iron Maiden, and the vocals could be any singer from that era. They have done the genre proud, and just as I loved it the first time round I was mightily impressed with this song. It also reminded me of another band called Kaine, who are part of a new generation bringing NWOBHM back to the world. With “The Rocker”, you could be expected to have an AC/DC sounding track. You can feel that Bon Scott era hiding in the song, but it is out on its own, even though we do get some ‘oi! oi!oi!’ going on. With the pointers the band give with these tracks and titles, they are not ashamed to wear the patches on their denim jacket, so to speak, but they own each and every note. It is all twisted and churned into what WILL be known as Hell’s Addiction.
“Time Has Come” is just awesome. The Priest/Maiden breakdown, the lazy vocals, the screaming, the anger. With this song they have created their very own “Hallowed Be Thy Name”. I cannot overstate how much I liked this track. For me, it is the cream of an incredibly talented crop. Listen out for the fretboard slide at the end and place it yourself. “What You Gonna Do” winds everything up, and man, I do not want it to end. The song finishes with the swagger it started with, and has the quality each and every track showed. I am not exaggerating when I tell you this album is going to be revered as a classic, years down the line.
Hell’s Addiction have produced a 10 track masterpiece in “Broken”. It will ring your bell, clean your clock, and knock you for six. If you are reading this and still wondering, “Should I buy this album?” WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? If I could, I would give a money back guarantee, and expect no returns. I can say no more than just buy it, fuckers… it is immense!
Review: Ritchie Birnie