Misfortunes by This Is Hell
Release date : February 2008
Reviewed by Eric Stephens
This Is Hell formed during June 2004 in Long Island, New York, and have since underwent several lineup changes. Currently, the group's personnel consists of; erstwhile Scraps And Heart Attacks frontman Travis Reilly supplying vocals, guitarist Chris Reynolds (also once part of Scraps And Heart Attacks), former Subterfuge members Rick Jiminez and Johnny Moore handling guitars and bass respectively, and Dan Bourke stepping behind the drumkit. Pressings of inaugural demo This Is Hell (2004) quickly sold out, and was followed by the release of an inaugural EP under the same title. Issued in May 2005 via State of Mind Records, the eponymous EP featured guest vocals courtesy of Glassjaw / Head Automatica vocalist Daryl Palumbo upon 108 cover interpretation “When Death Closes Your Eyes”.
This EP caught the attention of Trustkill Records owner Josh Grabelle during late 2005, who signed the group shortly after. Debut album Sundowning (whose title refers to late afternoon dementia associated with Alzheimer's disease) arrived in May 2006, garnering attention from the likes of Kerrang! and Metal Hammer. Filmed by director Doug Spangenberg (known for his work upon the RIAA gold certified Lamb of God DVD documentary Killadelphia), a music video was recorded in support of the track “The Polygraph Cheaters”. 2006 witnessed a raft of live dates, pairing This Is Hell alongside such groups as; Bane, Strike Anywhere, Modern Life is War, Bayside, Comeback Kid, and Ignite. In addition, the outfit was selected to open several of Glassjaw's east coast reunion dates. Several notable concerts loomed, particularly; Taste of Chaos alongside Deftones, Thrice, and Atreyu, Sounds of the Underground with As I Lay Dying, Trivium, and In Flames, and the Saints and Sinners Festival alongside Bleeding Through, Every Time I Die, and Killswitch Engage. British supporting dates paired This Is Hell alongside Lostprophets, whereas other shows paired them with Hatebreed, Sick of it All and Alexisonfire.
During 2007, a raft of tours boasted This Is Hell. The group lent support to Comeback Kid for Canadian dates during March, and toured North America alongside the same act, and Endwell, from late March to April. In June, This Is Hell conducted a headlining US tour replete with support from Blacklisted and Killing The Dream, and formed part of the Sounds of the Underground tour with GWAR, Shadows Fall, Chimaira, and Every Time I Die in July. British shores also experienced live action under the title Never Say Die!, a November tour package that included Comeback Kid, Cancer Bats, Parkway Drive, and The Warriors. In November, a split seven inch vinyl EP was issued in collaboration with Cancer Bats. Donating two tracks, these were; “Another Facade” (B-side to Sundowning), and a cover interpretation of the Cancer Bats number “Shillelagh”. Several limited pressings were made, more specifically; a hundred copies in carolina blue, four hundred copies in a green / white size, two hundred and fifty copies in green, and two hundred and fifty copies in red. Another seven inch was released that same month, featuring three tracks upon each side. Three covers in the form of CIV's “Do Something”, The Beastie Boys' “Fight For Your Right”, The Movielife's “I Hope You Die Soon” were present upon Cripplers, not to mention two unreleased cuts in the guise of “Another Facade” and “Double Grave”. Meanwhile, “Infected” later featured upon Misfortunes. This specific release also sported several limited pressings, comprised of; a hundred copies in black / clear splatter (hand screened), two hundred copiies in red / orange swirl, three hundred copies in yellow, four hundred copies in black / white swirl, five hundred copies in red / yellow, and finally five hundred copies in clear / black spatter.
This Is Hell's sophomore album Misfortunes was largely written whilst on tour, and took nearly a year to author. In October 2007, recording sessions were wholly performed. Bourke's drum parts were recorded at Killingsworth Studio in Long Island, New York with the aid of Tomas Costanza (Diffuser, Bedlight For Blue Eyes), whereas other parts were laid down at Full Force Studios in Port Jefferson with help from producer / mixer Joe Cincotta (Obituary, Suffocation, Animosity) and Dan Kenny. Mastering duties were handled by Alan Douches at West West Side, whereas the album's artwork was designed by Jeff Tiu.
As 2008 gradually unfolds, numerous music aficionados have deemed This Is Hell a group to take note of. Indeed, the outfit harbours dreams that Misfortunes will vitally aid in this endeavour. From the inaugural track's opening notes, it's audibly apparent that This Is Hell has opted towards maintaining a raw Hardcore ambience. In addition, the album's production cues bear similarities to production stylings found upon a Helmet full length. A genuine Hardcore album, Misfortunes does nothing to hide this revelation. Reilly's abrasive vocals seem brutally curt, whereas the tracks' musical stylings assert both pace, and aggression. A pleasantly anthemic vibe defines “In Shambles”, a cut which easens its speed whilst arriving at the track's concluding moments. A slow guitar introduces itself, and is then succeeded by a flurry of anthemic shouts. In light of the fact that both tracks mutually share certain musical sections, and somewhat flow as a collective, the song “Realization: Remorse” nearly behaves as “In Shambles”' actual continuation. Drummer Dan Bourke relentlessly pummels the skins within “Without Closure”'s time frame, likely causing fellow members immense difficulty in maintaining such speed. Whilst musically lethargic, “Last Days Campaign” features immediately aggressive, truthfully Hardcore vocals. Much of Misfortunes' material segues together, so “Last Days Campaign”'s airing proves an overtly welcome change. Furthermore, the tune casts the limelight upon a differing aspect of This Is Hell's musical personality.
Whilst some music admirers will cite This Is Hell as figuring amongst their favourite acts, Misfortunes is musically undistinguished somewhat. In countless ways, the full length can be deemed one continuous track divided into thirteen sections. The album's production boasts a vibrant sound, and particularly exhibits its Hardcore demeanour. Irrefutably a Hardcore outfit, This Is Hell may encounter difficulty in attracting sufficient acclaim amongst a plethora of similarly styled acts.