Hella, There’s no 666 in Outer Space

Hella, There's no 666 in Outer Space

Drummer Zach Hill and guitarist Spencer Seim of Hella gained cult fame for the jaw-dropping density and virtuosity of their work as a duo in the early 2000s, but by 2005 they were showing signs of artistic exhaustion. The tonic turned out to be a bigger band: the addition of vocals, bass, and backup guitar in 2005 dramatically revitalized Hella’s performances. There’s No 666 in Outer Space, recorded by Hella as a five-piece during 2006, captures this rebirth stunningly.

Hill and Seim’s radicalization of rock music into a complex fabric of tightly interlocking riffs remains the foundation of Hella, but the expansion of the band and the addition of the human voice have enabled them to build a musical structure of more sonic and emotional weight than ever before. 666 is no less challenging than Hella’s earlier work; Aaron Ross’s wailing vocals, in particular, will grate on some listeners’ ears. Careful investigation, however, uncovers a stirring contemplation of the knowability of nature, the mystery of death, and the intractable materiality of the human mind. Meanwhile, riffs of immense vitality run a dizzying race around and around each other, rearranging the language of rock into a gibbering sonic Esperanto. It’s the musical equivalent of speaking in tongues. Like Ives, Beckett, Kandinsky, and Coleman before them, Hella are the mad prophets of a global culture that is continually coming apart at the seams.

(Ipecac Recordings -- P.O. Box 1778, Orinda, CA. 94563; http://www.ipecac.com/; Hella -- http://www.hellaband.com/)
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Review by . Review posted Thursday, April 12th, 2007. Filed under Reviews.

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