After what seemed like an eternity we finally have ourselves a new record from Vancouver’s own WEST OF HELL in the form of Blood of the Infidel, self-released and out now. I first got into these guys when A&GS was only a few months old, but I fell for them instantly. It was also my first summer doing interviews, and lead guitarist Sean Parkinson was without a doubt one of the coolest ones I did (such a great guy!). Some line-up changes have occurred since Spiral Empire, and hey sometimes that’s part of band life. But I’ll tell ya what, this line-up sounds locked in and ready to strike on each one of these tracks.
One of the best examples is “Infidels”, vocalist Chris “The Heathen” Valagao cracking open the sky with his powerhouse voice, and the barbed wire riffs and interplay between Parkinson and fellow axeman Kris Schulz light it up. The guitar solos and chorus are both the strongest on the record and again, Valagao is jaw-droppingly good!! Bassist Jordan Kemp and drummer Paul Drummond are no slouches either, as the songs will twist and turn on a dime, the two of them at the helm quite often. Opener “Hammer and Hand” is the perfect way to kick things off, and after one listen you’ll probably think, “Why the FUCK don’t more people know this band?!!?”
“Chrome Eternal” is rife with snarling attitude, in every aspect. You can hear it in the way everyone’s playing, and it’s fucking awesome. There’s no bullshit with this group, and it shows, especially here. “The Machine” infuses some very melodic tones into a song that is plenty heavy, thus making for another winner. And those guitar runs are sick wit it!! Next up is “Dying Tomorrow”, a nearly nine-minute epic that starts out with a dual harmonized acoustic guitar intro before the rest of the band kicks in. And when they do, OHHHHHHHHH BOY. You can forget any preconceived notions you may have had because this thing will blow them all to bits.
“The Dark Turn” showcases even more exemplary guitar work from Parkinson and Schulz, with Drummond and Kemp actually leading the charge into battle. When Valagao sounds the horn with his otherworldly screams it’s simply majestic; another killer tune on a record full of them! Closing us out is the seven-minute plus “Mankind Commands,” and really what more can I say, huh? The boys come in and kick 50 Shades of Ass on this one, like they did on the other six songs. Oh, and we get some Death Metal growls, which are always welcome here!
All told I really love Blood of the Infidel. I think THIS is the album WEST OF HELL needed to make. Because let’s face it, when you’re taking this long between records, whether or not its due to circumstances beyond your control, you need to hit the listening audience over the head with your new one and be like, “We back, BISHES!!” And that is exactly what these guys have done with this latest effort. It is truly a joy to listen to from beginning to end, and if it doesn’t endear them to a wider audience there is no fucking justice in the world of Heavy Metal. And that is unassailable fact!! Guess who just made Maestro’s Top Albums of 2019 list…
STANDOUT TRACKS: ALL OF THEM