On playing this album i recalled a quote from Geoff Barton when he reviewed Hell Awaits by Slayer for Kerrang (when it was worth reading) back in the 80’s. He said, “albums that make you throw back your head and shout woooooargh are few and far between”. Well,the debut album Hell To The Holy by M-Pire Of Evil is definitely one of those albums,clocking in at just over 50mins of utter brutality!
The band is lead by guitarist Mantas who metal fans must surely know was one of the founding members of the legendary black metal band Venom who paved the way for a lot of bands of this genre since the mid 1980’s. The band is made up by another 2 ex-Venom band members,Demolition Man on bass/vocals and Antton on drums although they were not a part of the original line up. M-Pire Of Evil formed in 2010 when Antton joined Mantas’ then solo group Dryll and many Venom fans were over the moon when Demolition Man completed the line up.
In fact,the band asked Venom fans to choose a new name for the band,the most popular of which was Prime Evil,the title of a classic Venom album but as there was currently a band with that monicker for the same reason the name M-Pire Of Evil was born. Their 1st recorded output was an e.p titled Creatures Of The Black,released on Scarlet Records in October 2011. It contained 6 tracks,4 of which were classic cover versions of Exciter,God Of Thunder,Hell Aint A Bad Place To Be and Motorhead but the 2 originals, Creatures Of The Black and Reptile were to whet the appetites of old Venom fans prior to their 1st full length debut album Hell To The Holy.
Released again via Scarlet Records,the album is due on March 26th 2012 with a limited edition version luxury digipack with a poster of the band with a very striking cover by artist Gyula Havancsak who has worked for Annihilator,Grave Digger and Destruction to name but a few. Production of the album was handled by Mantas himself and he does an herculean job as every vocal and instrumental part are turned up to the max with no loss of clarity.
Opening track Hellspawn literally explodes in with the 1st of many immense guitar riffs on the album churning thru over 4 mins of no compromise heavy metal and a written review cannot do any justice to the guitar/drum passage midway. Metal Messiah’s rolling riff precedes yet another raging drum workout by Antton with a speedy melodic guitar solo added by Mantas. The mid paced stomp of Waking Up Dead is driven by a marching Rammstein like riff with even more guitar fills to up the metal mayhem. One of many highlights is next up,the 6.30 minute title track begins with a tolling bell/thunderstorm/wailing female voice sample followed by a demonic “whats your name” with a leering vocal over a razor sharp guitar riff. The slowest track so far but the heaviest! The surging Snake Pit is next,the vocals portraying our love of going to a metal gig with references made to Judas Priest/Iron Maiden/Rainbow/Scorpions/Kiss/Angelwitch with the chorus telling us to “stake your place and bang your head,down in the snake pit!”. The song climaxes in a hyper speed assault with a “bang your head” refrain. All Hail is yet another drum laden stomper with gang vocals of “all hail” adding atmosphere. Devil begins with a cajun type slide guitar before another huge Mantas riff takes over with the slide weaving in and out. The “2,3,4” bellowed intro of Shockwave leads into an uptempo nwobhm riff and is probably the closest Venom sounding song on the album. My personal highlight is next. The 8 minute The 8th Gate drifts in with an ethereal intro, followed by a crushing guitar riff. The growled lyrics dealing with the afterlife and a melodic guitar solo 5 mins in leads into the cataclysmic finish,ending with the song’s intro again. The acoustic intro of album closer M-Pire Prelude is the calm before the storm as a drum beat gives way to a death metal vocal bellow over a concrete heavy riff.
So there you have it,an outstanding debut album from M-Pire Of Evil that any self respecting heavy metal fan will be blown away by. As yet there are no plans to tour the UK but the band will be touring the U.S with British thrashers Onslaught.
M-Pire Of Evil band :-
Mantas ( Jeff Dunn )- Guitar.
Demolition Man ( Tony Dolan )- Bass/vocals.
Antton ( Antony Lant )- Drums.
Waking Up Dead.
Hell To The Holy.
The 8th Gate.
I award the album 10/10