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Hella - There's No 666 in Outer Space [Ipecac - 2007]

There's No 666 in Outer Space is Hella's first album as a quintet. It's also their first album to feature vocals on most tracks (courtesy of Aaron Ross). Hella's music is a little difficult to explain, but suffice it to say there's a lot going on at once. They're very talented musicians who are not afraid to showcase their talents at every available moment. This makes listening to their music very interesting for sure, but it also makes for sensory overload at times. You have to be in the mood to be pummelled relentlessly at every turn by this music. That said, this album holds up pretty well. Just make sure you have a couple cups of coffee before listening.

First off, let me tell you, I'm not a huge fan of math rock. Like most new genre names, I think it's lazy. A lot of the bands originally namechecked under said banner bored me with technically proficiency, as opposed to the emotional gutshot that good music creates. This album succeeds partly with avoiding some of those pitfalls for a couple of reasons; it's doesn't neatly fit into said genre and, at times, it's good humoured.

There are certainly some overly dramatic moments, which are mostly provided by the vocalist. The vocals on The Ungrateful Dead sound to me like a spastic imitation of Ian McCulloch, and Hand That Rocks the Cradle has a bit of an Andrian Belew vibe, complete with falsetto. I suppose Aaron Ross shouldn't be faulted for his ambition, he's not a bad singer, he just over-reaches at times. To his credit though, this music is so dense and splintered that it can't be an easy task to come up with coherent vocals. More often than not the vocals fit in well, and don't sound like they're battling the music.

As for the music, it reminds me a little bit of what's going on with the Load Records stable at the moment (USAISAMONSTER springs to mind). Add to that heavy prog influences, King Crimson being the most obvious example, a bit of metal and you're most of the way there. If you have a short attention span, this album should do the trick quite nicely, as there's virtually no letup from beginning to end.

Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5

Erwin Michelfelder
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