APRIL ALBUM OF THE MONTH
It’s dark. Yes it is a bit, but that’s good – this is, after all, an album to listen to loud and with the lights off.
After EP success and developing a solid reputation for their live sets, the Hellbound Hearts’ debut album lands on 7 April – and it’s been well worth the wait.
I first met the band from at the sun-drenched lawns of Wildfire Festival last summer. I was expecting to meet a ‘big noise’ metal band and talk big noise. From the band’s name and the impact of the Jane Mansfield image on the ‘Proximity Effect’ EP, I’d built a picture in my mind on what I might expect. Shouty, full-on metal music with deep gruff vocals and all played very loud. What I discovered was quite different: A band that balance rock intensity with a great ear for melody; a natural passion for authenticicity making great music that is fresh, alive and direct. Welcome to the world of ‘Film Noir.’
The album opener ‘Suffering The Radio’ I premiered on my Friday rock show in the final months of 2016. The track had immediate resonance for drive-time radio listeners and generated a great response for repeat plays. ‘Suffering The Radio’ is a wonderfully crafted and dramatic song that also references the problems many new bands face getting pick-up from DAB and FM radio stations. From my experience, people like discovering new music but they have to hear new bands to like them – and Hellbound Hearts are a great example of so many bright new bands that should me more prevalent on mainstream radio on musical merit.
After the rousing ‘Broken Hearted’ the album, in my opinion, goes up a few gears with ‘Poor Disguises’ – a true rock tour de force that marks Hellbound Hearts arrival in 2017. A heavy start breaks into soaring choruses that really showcase the vocal power leading this band. The vocals are one of the facets that really mark this band out from bands that blend heavy riffs with rough gritty vocals. With Hellbound Hearts, the vocals elevate the music to a new level, they kind of crown the music. Throughout the album the interplay of intense – sometimes dark – rock with powerful feel-good and uplifting choruses makes the album instantly arresting and gives the band a musical signature that is entirely their own.
After ‘The light We Cannot See’ – which was supported by a new video in February – the album moves on to ‘Still We Wait.’ For the opening moments one thinks ‘OK, gear change’ as we look set for a ballad to bring things down a bit. But then we switch straight back into a dark riff-laden verses and then a twist again as the power choruses again take the song somewhere new. It’s a great trait for the band, just as you think you’ve got the measure of what’s coming next with a song the band take you round the corner with something new.
‘Wake Up’ is a great indie pop song – and I’m not talking TV talent shows here. A three-minute song that starts and finishes without having to be faded in/out, with strong versus and a rousing chorus, this is the kind of song that could really arrest the airwaves. Mind you much of this could equally apply to ‘We Are All Alone.’
Like The Texas Flood or The Bad Flowers in Hellbound Hearts we have yet another trio of musicians that create an immense wall of sound, unbelievable at times to think there are just three people in the band. When I spoke with the guys in 2016 about the creative process in the studio they talked about seizing and nurturing those magic moments of spontaneity and also working to a 20 minute rule – if an idea didn’t excite them in 20 minutes they would drop it and move on. This approach, to some, might sound harsh but the positive results are clear to see on this cracking debut album – from start to finish there is a sense of purpose with all the songs, excellently crafted, and with arresting chorus lines you just wont be able to get out of your head.
For fans that have been waiting a while for the band’s debut album to arrive, the band come sprinting out their traps. It feels like the band’s restless ambition to get a reference point first album out colours every track on this album.
In ‘Film Noir’ we have a commanding collection of songs that is essential listening for any discerning rock fan and supporter of new music. Following recent album releases for Bad Touch, Those Damn Crows and The Texas Flood it is undeniable we are going through a new ‘golden age’ for new rock bands writing great albums and ‘Film Noir’ is the latest addition to this ‘movement’ that is becoming too big to ignore.