This week, Hells Headbangers announced the signing of Australia’s legendary Hobbs’ Angel of Death. The first fruit of this union shall be the band’s long-awaited comeback album, Heaven Bled, which will be released this (Northern) Autumn by Hells Headbangers. Helmed by one relentless maniac named Peter Hobbs, HAoD are one of the more unsung cult favorites of eighties metal. Hailing from Australia many years before it was cool to do so, the band released two classic demos in 1987, Angel of Death and the telltale Virgin Metal Invasion From Down Under, not before time came the inevitable debut album. That album, 1988’s Hobbs’ Angel of Death, was released by Steamhammer during the label’s glory years, and quickly found a devoted legion of fans enthralled to Hobbs’ Kreator-meets-Dark Angel style of deathrash. With a unique charisma that was devilishly gleeful in a sense, Hobbs’ Angel of Death sired the band’s self-tagged “virgin metal,” which worked in both connotations of the word. It would be many years before a follow-up, 1995’s Inheritance, and the band broke up not long after.
Come 2002, however, Hobbs’ Angel of Death would re-form and play a number of European festivals and scattered tour dates over the next decade, but aside from the Hobbs’ Satan Crusade compilation of the two demos, no new material had yet arisen. But now, courtesy of longtime fans Hells Headbangers, the first all-new recording of Hobbs’ Angel of Death in over two decades has finally come to pass. Titled Heaven Bled, this 12-song firestorm of thrashing death metal (“deathened” thrash?) proves that time has not dulled Peter Hobbs’ passion one bit nor do the band once rest on their laurels. Much like Atomic Aggressor‘s Sights of Suffering – which Hells Headbangers released to widespread acclaim in 2014 – Heaven Bled is undoubtedly infused with Hobbs’ classic past, but is recast in a powerfully streamlined manner where the songwriting and execution take center stage and rawness and youthful enthusiasm are no longer the guiding principles. There’s demonic fury in abundance, but it’s tempered with the quiet confidence of age and wisdom, through which Hobbs LOUDLY casts his incisive gaze on a whole host of subjects, each one more vitriolic (and catchier) than the next. Altogether, Heaven Bled is a timeless blend of extreme metals throughout the ages, sounding as fresh as Hobbs’ Angel of Death’s explosion onto the international scene in 1987.