Gehennah - Metal Police - (8/10)
Published on February 25, 2015
Originally released as a four song seven inch by Lightning Records in March of 2014, Gehennah’s Metal Police saw a bulked up reissue by Metal Blade Records in February of 2015, which is the band’s first release for the label. In addition to the original four tracks on the seven inch, the newly issued Metal Police features eight bonus tracks, which mostly consist of re-recorded tracks from the band’s earlier full length albums, King of the Sidewalk and Decibel Rebel, along with two unreleased songs. Gehennah has been around since 1992 and, to date, has released three full lengths, three demos, three EP’s and two splits, but their biggest claim to fame would have to be the infamous Headbangers Against Disco series which has featured Sabbat, Bestial Warlust, Infernö and Nifelheim, among others.
Metal Police serves as the band’s first newly recorded material since 2003’s 10 Years of Fucked Up Behavior, which was basically old material plus two new tracks. So really, aside from two tracks, the band hasn’t been all that productive in the last decade. Sure, they had a short break from 2008 through 2011, but they really weren’t lighting the world on fire with their productivity before the split. Despite the long gap between releases, the only line up change is Charley Knuckleduster taking over bass duties for Ronnie Ripper. The rest of the band has soldiered on, resulting in a sound that hasn’t changed up much in the band’s twenty year plus existence.
While Gehennah has been doing it years, the whole filthy, speed metal infused, blackened rock ‘n’ fucking roll thing has been taking off like a bottle rocket lit from an empty pounder. Really, it was only a matter of time before one of these dirty and sleazy bands relying on equal parts Motörhead, Venom, whiskey and solid brass tacks would get picked up by a larger label like Metal Blade; it’s just comforting to hear that Gehennah hasn’t lost their raw edge in the deal. Impressively, the production is just as filthy and reeking of stale booze as ever, sounding more like a rabid garage recording rather than something recorded in a studio proper. That’s not to say that the instrumentation is garbled, because it’s rather clear and in your face, it’s just that Gehennah has found that magic balance. Really, any band that is willing to cover the classic Dwarves track “Fuck ‘Em All” is not going to be sporting a pristine or polished production.
Gehennah have always been a band that gave priority to rocking the fuck out over pristine musicianship and, despite how that reads, it is not a flaw. The band calls their music filthy and violent street metal, and that’s a rather apt description. Proudly displaying influences from Venom, Motörhead, Bathory and Tank, Gehennah’s sound is a foul and sleazy amalgamation of those bands. Thrashy riffs with tons of sloppy rock ‘n’ roll styled lead licks and melodic and gruff vocals that only years of whiskey and smoke filled clubs could produce. The re-recorded tracks sound vicious and pummeling, though not quite as sloppy as the band’s first time through with these songs. The retouching on classic Gehennah material, like “666 Drunks & Rock ‘n’ Roll” and “Six-Pack Queen” is admirable, showing a sharper guitar sound and a tighter performance overall. The new tracks, “Black Jack Loser” and “Carve Off Your Face” show the band in fine form and should have any fan frothing at the mouth for their upcoming fourth full length.
It’s refreshing to know that after a decade of silence, Gehennah can still bring those classic vibes. Any fan of Midnight and Barbados needs to pick this up, as this is cut from the same cloth of Venom and Motörhead worship. Metal Police is not a reinvention of the wheel, it’s just filthy and violent street metal with tons of tongue in cheek lyrics. With bottles clanking on the floor and the air smelling of sweat, smoke and whiskey, Gehennah’s latest work sounds like the foul basements and clubs that brought them up.