Hell Within - Shadows Of Vanity
15 May 2007

01. Shadows Of Vanity
02. My Exit Is Red
03. Lay Down Your Arms
04. The Spiral
05. In The Absence Of Fire
06. Between The Dead And The Deceived
07. For The Taking
08. Merciless
09. A Silent Prayer For The Haunted

When I reviewed Hell Within's previous album Asylum Of The Human Predator in 2005, I remember I quite liked their brutal approach to metalcore that was very similar to that of Heaven Shall Burn but I also pointed out that their music was way too predictable and that improvements in the 'surprise' department would be very fine, thank you. Surprising is the main word that comes to my mind to qualify Shadows Of Vanity, their new opus.

Hell Within seem to have undergone a kind of identity crisis, because what I hear now is almost nothing like before. The basis is still metalcore but exit the Gothenburg melodeath-ish influences. The most amazing change comes from the vocals. Matt McChesney obviously progressed a lot and wanted to show it. His performance is excellent: no more of those whiny clean vocals that you hear far too often in metalcore. His vocals now have a strong thrash edge and remind me a lot of Chuck Billy's in the beginning 90's.

The thrash influence is very present all along the album, with lots of cool riffs and nice solos. Just hear the very metal opener "Shadows Of Vanity" to convince you. Basically, the band is very efficient on aggressive songs such as "Between The Dead And The Deceived", the only song reminiscent of the At The Gates worship of the previous album, and also on more complex parts like on the Burst-like atmospheric "A Silent Prayer For The Haunted". They even sometimes stride the path of fellow countrymates 3 Inches Of Blood with the excellent heavy/power hardcore "My Exit In Red" (now don't tell me the opening riff is nothing like that of "Deadly Sinners"). In other words, Hell Within is very good when straying relatively far from their metalcore roots.

That is the reason why things tend to go downwards along the middle of the album. "Lay Down Your Arms" seems to be the promo single, but to me it couldn't sound more like clichéd metalcore with those backing clean vocals and overused riffs. Follows a line of forgettable songs like "The Spiral" and "Merciless". They are not bad songs, just uninteresting and too common.

Hell Within almost succeeded with Shadows Of Vanity. Unfortunately there are too many fillers for me to say this album is great. Though in the future they might want to focus on these thrash and heavy elements, that's what worked out the best on this album in my opinion. For now, this is a good album. A few very good songs and a brilliant production keep the interest awake all along.

Performance: 8
Songwriting: 7
Originality: 6
Production: 10

Band profile: Hell Within
Album: Shadows Of Vanity


written by Deadsoulman | 26.04.2007


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Zeus00 - 28.04.2007 at 03:54  
Vocals were the main disappointment to me for this album, oh well, hopefully they'll do better on the next album.

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