Although the seeds for West of Hell were sewn in 2002, it isn’t until now that their first album – the cross-genre, metal legacy focused Spiral Empire – is finding its way to the masses. Along the way the band has relocated from their home in West Auckland, New Zealand, to Vancouver, British Columbia; found the perfect vocalist, the mighty Chris ”The Heathen” Valagao; and written and recorded a host of songs that aim to encapsulate their influences.
The quintet are unashamed, and, in fact, seem unabashedly proud to wear their influences on their leather jackets. From the Maiden-inflected “House of Lies” to the Big Four thrash of “Demon Sent,” West of Hell touch on era after era of metal. Sometimes it works, and the opening trio of tracks smolders with precise playing and water-tight production; sometimes it wears thin, falling short on the mega-clichéd “Faceless the Droids.” All in all, it is safe to say that West of Hell are entertaining and they take their metal seriously.
Unfortunately, though, Spiral Empire is really nothing more than light entertainment. West of Hell are more anchored to the past than they are un-tethered to explore the future, making this debut release a revivalist jaunt that is loud but lost.
Spiral Empire is out now on Reversed Records.
Rating: Two stars