Review: Hellblind, A Plague on All Your Houses (Revenger, 2022)

I somehow caught wind that U.K. metal outfit Hellblind had some sort of connection to industrial legends Pitchshifter (bassist and co-founder Mark Clayden), so I dug into a promo email only to discover that the group also features vocalist Adam Frakes-Sime from the mighty Stampin' Ground, which was certainly enough to warrant a listen! (The lineup also boasts ties to other acts that I'm currently unfamiliar with, such as Outside the Coma, Romeo Must Die, and This is Menace.)

The resulting EP, A Plague on All Your Houses, is an interesting take on modern groove metal loaded with crushing rhythms and scattered melodic accents. Coming at it as a fan of Pitchshifter and Stampin' Ground, I was somewhat taken aback at first by the crisply-produced intensity of the all-out groove—which avoids characteristics that could justly be tagged "djent" or "nu," to be clear—but the material settles in to be concise and focused: five songs, 17 minutes—there's no fat to trim here.

While drawing from a mixed-bag of hard-hitting influences, gnarly chugs really do nail everything down. Lightly industrial flourishes creep into the intro of "If You're Going Through Hell," but they're not really delving into a whole lot of that. "Hitched" explores more melodic tendencies and the widest range of vocal approaches, also highlighting the use of droning guitar accents. Elsewhere, subtly thrashy picking patterns and occasional tempo surges carry a hardcore sense of energy—"Wounds," for example, offers familiar glimpses for Stampin' Ground fans.

It's tough to pick a favorite, as the aforementioned efficiency of the approach maintains a consistent level of impact. Though the project was formed in part due to pandemic frustration, I certainly hope they'll continue and work up some new material down the road.

It seems that A Plague on All Your Houses is digital-only, at least for now, so you can find the tunes on Spotify, YouTube, and others. Unfortunately, it's not on Bandcamp yet, though Hellblind does have a page, so... hopefully it'll show up soon?