Principality of Hell- Fire & Brimstone

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Thursday, August 7, 2014

Old-school black/thrash metal isn’t that hard to find, as there are plenty of bands out there that have chosen to pay tribute to Venom, Bathory, and the rest of the classic 80’s acts. Greece’s Principality of Hell is one of the latest to try and recapture the intensity and grit of this particular style, but they aren’t just some unknown entity. The three piece is made up of members from well-known Greek metal bands Necromantia, Thou Art Lord, Soulskinner, and Ravencult, and their debut full length Fire & Brimstone sounds exactly like what you’d expect for a group that claims to have the single purpose of doing the 80’s black/thrash sound justice. But even if it’s a very familiar listen, Principality of Hell has plenty of absolutely killer riffs to throw your way and that makes all the difference.

Right from the start the instrumentalists make it clear just what to expect from Fire & Brimstone, as the title track kicks things off with fast paced thrash/heavy metal that has very obvious influences but is still quite catchy. These guys definitely have the early black/thrash sound down perfectly, as the sound is very raw and there’s a decent amount of separation between the guitar, bass, and drums. Principality of Hell clearly wanted this to sound like it could have been recorded during the 80’s, and since that type of production is one I like that made the album all the more appealing. So far, this album probably doesn’t sound that different from the average formula, but the songwriting is the distinguishing factor. Even though a few tracks fall into a similar pattern by the end, there were still plenty of riffs that had gotten stuck in my head and made me want to hit the repeat button. The best numbers would have to be “The Bleeding Nun” and “Leviathan,” as the former has a chilling guitar lead that was stuck in my head after the first listen while the latter has one of the most blistering solos I’ve heard recently that seems to pop up out of thin air. Principality of Hell finishes things off with a cover of Exodus’ “Strike of the Beast” and while I tend to find covers a bit hit or miss it definitely works in the band’s favor here and keeps the energy level at a high.

The Magus handles all of the vocal work on Fire & Brimstone, and he has the type of raspy scream that’s perfectly suited for this particular style of metal. It’s not the most over the top pitch out there if you compare Principality of Hell to other black/thrash like Nifelheim, but the performance still has a good deal of intensity and is able to give off that evil vibe. The way that The Magus delivers all of these lines makes it fairly easy to understand what’s being said, and as you’ll find out quickly the lyrical content is all themed around the usual black metal themes. It may be fairly predictable, but I’m not complaining when it results in some choruses that make you want to throw your fist in the air and start setting things on fire. Unlike some of the other albums with an emphasis on an old-school production, the vocals aren’t completely buried either, allowing the raspier screams to consistently take the spotlight.

Fire & Brimstone is a nice surprise, as I wasn’t expecting this album to come along and kick my ass as much as it did. Principality of Hell captures the first wave black/thrash sound and overall vibe perfectly, but they also back it up with riffs and solos that consistently grab your attention. It hasn’t left my stereo since that initial listen, and despite how close it sounds to its influences at times there’s still more than enough variation to make it distinguishable. These guys knew exactly what they were trying to achieve and who their audience is, and as a result they’ve delivered a triumphant first statement.

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