Hellz Abyss – essentially Lisa Perry (vocals) and Daryl Holden (production, guitars) but really a vehicle for the rampant alter ego of Perry, Hellz, often pose as many questions as they answer on new album N1FG (GEDD1T?); However, if you can wade through all the heavy production tricks and gimmicks, at the core of all the mayhem and madness one solid truth emerges – Perry has one hell of an impressive voice.
Holden ain’t a bad guitarist, either, it’s just that the listener has to have a bit of perseverance to get to these conclusions. Often good songs are swathed in the sort of studio trickery that bands like Filter used at the arse end of the last century, giving some of the material a curiously dated feel that it really doesn’t deserve.
It’s probably better not to dwell on this – unless you love Filter – and accentuate the positives, as Bing Crosby might have said. When allowed to cut through the ‘I’m-declaiming-uncomfortable-truths-through-a-police-magaphone’ effects Perry’s voice is a wonderful thing to behold. The comparatively stripped back Trust reveals a technique Pat Benatar would approve of, whilst the sassy Salute – which the more alert amongst you may already have heard on Hellz’ Facebook page – has a groove that wouldn’t have been out of place on the first couple of Garbage albums but delivers a metallic KO that Shirley Manson could only have dreamed of being involved with.
Liar is also impressive, it’s scitterish drug comedown intro creepiness morphing into a spiky, anger-fuelled, riff-based extravaganza that again looks back to the nineties for inspiration; remember UK rap rockers Senser? You’ll love this then.
Ratatat mines a similarly rich seem of inspiration; piecing all this together you start to realise that maybe those Filter comparisons point to a bigger picture rather than a creative weakness; and penultimate track Shoot To Kill is where it all comes together best, with Holden’s axe wailing an accompaniment to Perry’s schizophrenic delivery; equal parts Skunk Anansie and Grace Slick, it’s actually a very beguiling mix indeed. But like I said, it takes a bit of effort to get to these conclusions.
Still, it’s undoubtedly worth the effort in the end – not that Lisa and Daryl give any fucks whether I like it or not!
N1FG releases on March 3rd