Greet Death are a young 3-piece rock band coming from Flint, Mi. I discovered them through their label, Deathwish Inc. The label is generally known for their heavy bands like Converge (vocalist Jacob Bannon founded the label), Deafheaven, and Elder. So I was surprised when New Hell turned out to be pretty melodic. Most of the songs here have some heavier elements, but nothing here would be considered metal so it really stands out from the rest of the Deathwish catalog. The album has quite a bit of variety, drawing influence from shoegaze, post-rock, emo, grunge, and just a hint of sludge-metal. There’s even an acoustic ballad, and a few different vocal styles are used by the two singers throughout.
‘Circles of Hell’ is the perfect way to start the album. It begins with a soft guitar intro, before some heavier shoegaze tones appear with a bang. Once the song gets going, the lead guitar takes on a really interesting melody that’s accented perfectly by the drumming. And the last minute of the song leads right into the next track. Some fuzzy, droning guitars come in, and then the listener is teased with a few false stops before ‘Do You Feel Nothing?’ begins. You can immediately tell that this song is kicking things up a notch. It starts out with some feedback and distorted guitars, then goes into its faster, more energetic groove. When the vocals appear, they catch you off guard with a different singer from the previous song. The vocals on ‘Circles of Hell’ remind me of Morrisey in The Smiths, but here they sound a little whiney, like they would belong in an emo song. And the lyrics live up to that as well, for example the line: “I hate my friends; Cause they don’t hate themselves; And they shut me up; I want to be like them.”
The first two songs are easily my favorites off the album. But ‘Let It Die’ changes things up again, and features yet another new vocal style. The music is a little bit folk-y, and most lines are sung with a falsetto. The song is a nice lull before the monster 9-minute track, ‘You’re Gonna Hate What You’ve Done’. New Hell’s defining feature is the guitar work. And this song is a perfect example of that, with the massive-sounding rhythm guitar, and the epic solo that begins halfway through it that makes for an amazing climax after the long build up.
The next two songs are also excellent. They showcase the varied vocal styles on New Hell, and start feature more harmonizing between the two singers than before. On ‘Strange Days’, the song switches between more uplifting, almost hopeful verses and the darker, heavier choruses. The chorus uses the harmonizing to provide a more weighty feeling to the refrain of “And now all we seem to love is the darkness” toward the end of the song. ‘Entertainment’ does something similar, with pronounced harmonies coming in at the end to accent the repeating line: “When we’re finally together.”
The album reaches its finale with the almost 10-minute eponymous track. It begins a faint sigh from the vocalist, and it’s almost as if he’s dreading what’s to come, maybe because it’s too painful for him to sing lines like: “I told all my friends that we’d still speak; But it’s been fifteen weeks; And now they’re through with me“. But despite being dark and depressing, the music becomes a little hopeful, and it’s like a light fighting to push through the darkness. It really makes you feel connected to the singer, with whatever issues he was going through that inspired the lyrics. The song builds up to a crushing peak in the second half, with lyrics that include a callback to the title of track 2, “Do You Feel Nothing?” But this time it sounds more resigned, and less angry than before. There are also some faint black metal-style screams by the second vocalist in the background, that add to the dark, desperate atmosphere of not just this song, but to the album as a whole.
I would highly recommend New Hell for all kinds of rock fans, whether you’re into depressive emo, the dense sounds of shoegaze, or just great guitar work. There are a couple tracks which are clearly a step down from the first two, but they’re still enjoyable and fit in great in the context of the album and the flow from song to song. This is only Greet Death’s second album (their debut, the less-polished Dixieland is also great), but it sounds extremely mature, and I can’t wait for their next release and for their tour to come to the PNW.