Asinhell – Impii Hora (Metal Blade Records)

Friday, 29th September 2023
Rating: 8.5 / 10

While writing material for 2021’s Servant of the Mind album, guitarist/frontman of Volbeat Michael Poulsen had a few death metal riffs that obviously did not fit the Danish mainstay act – so he saved the work on his hard drive to explore down the line. No stranger to the genre as he formed Dominus during the 1990’s, releasing four albums before splitting in 2000 to start Volbeat, it’s exciting to see Michael develop these songs for his new band Asinhell. Purposely concentrating on guitar for this outfit, he recruited vocalist Marc Grewe (Insidious Disease, ex-Morgoth) and drummer Morten Toft (Raunchy) to fill out the lineup, the results coming to life in this debut album Impii Hora. Long-time producer Jacob Hansen was the missing piece on bass beyond providing his veteran behind the board skills, while The Arcane Order guitarist Flemming C. Lund laid down the lead parts.

The combination of players paying homage to late 80’s to mid-90’s style death metal has a slightly different spirit than most OSDM acts coming out of the woodwork these days. There’s a strong sense of heavy groove throughout these ten tracks as well as a versatile outlook that adds doom or speedier parts to the proceedings where these musicians look at the entire genre as their influence bank to draw upon. You will hear say an Iommi-like guitar bend or heads down d-beat charge intertwined against chunky riffs or relentless double kick parts as Grewe spews his words as if fighting for his life to make “Pyromantic Scryer” and first single/opener “Fall of the Loyal Warrior” immediate highlights. Michael’s larger than life guitar tone is raw as well as relentless – using the HM-2/chainsaw aspect as a tool to bridge aspects of Bolt Thrower, Entombed, Grave as well as Mercyful Fate and Death to his songwriting, hooks, and specific transitions/twists that carry the musical mainframe for “Island of Dead Men” and the titanic title cut. Marc recruited psychologist friend Dr. Frank Albers to write some interesting lyrical topics together, including serial killers with “Trophies” and “The Ultimate Sin”, Satan for “Desert of Doom”, as well as war and cannibalism. Jacob’s production skills keep Ashinhell’s sound balanced between brutality and clarity – similar to what we’ve heard on the early 90’s Death efforts going head-to-head with current Carcass.

Let’s hope that Impii Hora is not a one-off outing for Asinhell. Sure, listeners may have to wait longer than normal to get a follow-up on the streets given Volbeat’s global status as a premiere heavy groove metal band – but when the quality songwriting and performances melt faces like this, you can’t help but want more servings.

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