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'Holy Despair'
(Bombworks Records)

jools green

Jools Green

a hill to die upon

Illinois based black/death Metal outfit A Hill To Die Upon were formed by brothers Adam and Michael Cook in 2004 and 'Holy Despair' is their third full length release following 'Infinite Titanic Immortal' in 2009 and 'Omens' in 2011.

The first thing that I am going to say about this album is that it is a superb listen. Looking into the band further; their inspiration for lyrical themes comes from battles, mythology, literature and Christianity.

The latter thankfully isn't a high profile theme and is ambiguous in its application, so I will apply my adversarial stance to that content and then enjoy this release purely from its artistic perspective as all these themes are woven into interesting tales that reflect their own personal visions.

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The musicianship on the release is excellent, most of which is covered by the Cook brothers with additional lead guitars from Nolan Osmond, with superb black Metal guitars that have an added twist to the sound, as well as having a really great tone to them, not dissimilar to Watain in many respects.

The vocals are superbly harsh and vitriolic and reminded me a little of Ihsahn in their style, particularly on 'Unyielding Anguish'. The drum work is also good, very powerful and often quite complex.

Consisting of ten tracks, spanning almost fifty minutes, all of which I thought were well composed so I have no favourites, this is a release to be enjoyed in its entirety. Beginning with 'Cloven Hoof Hava Nagila', a dark humoured title, where a simple haunting repeat riff makes up the basis of the track with some superb guitar work midway.

a hill to die upon

The dark, deliberate and haunting, almost mournful 'A Jester Arrayed In Burning Gold', has additional clean singing from Beckie Frey. On 'Nekyia', the inspiration for which comes from Homer's The Odyssey, there are also additional guest vocals in the form of screaming, courtesy of The Scandinavian Black Metal Alliance and on 'O Death' clean vocals are provided by Timbre, who also plays the closing harp which adds an interesting Celtic feel; not an instrument that crops up in Metal often, giving it a unique twist.

The tracks 'Let The Ravens Have My Eyes' and the dark haunting 'Hæðen' enlist the musical talents of Thor Georg Buer of Grave Declaration and Antestor, who wrote the music for both these tracks. 'Somme' is a beautiful reflective guitar based instrumental.

The vocals on 'Rime (Jerub-Ba'al)'are particularly excellent, taking on, at times more so than other tracks, a very blackened, tortured and vitriolic tone.

Final track, the dark plodding 'Satan Speaks' is the C.S. Lewis poem of the same name with an added couplet, written by Michael, at the end and whether you agree or not with the sentiment implied it does round the piece off well as the original ending hangs in mid air somewhat; it also makes a great album closer.

'Holy Despair' was recorded by Drew Webster of Webster Studios and mixed and mastered by Erik Tordsson of Dark Chambers Studios and produced by Adam Eckley Cook. The artwork was by Tyler Hays.

I do think this is a great album, created by brothers, out of a passion for their art.

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Wacken Winter Nights 2018 takes place between February 23rd and 25th 2018 and the great news is that you can now experience a full-on, top class German Metal Festival easily and affordably.

It only takes an hour to fly to Hamburg from London and we've had longer journeys than that within the capital and they were certainly more expensive than the £33 air ticket that just appeared in our 'flights to Wacken Winter Nights' search.


Wacken Winter Nights is organised by the same team who are responsible for the world's greatest Metal festival, Wacken-Open-Air and the 2018 bill includes Skyclad, Orphaned Land, Elvenking, Finntroll, Grave Digger, Aeverium, Comes Vagantes, Coppelius, Corvus Corax, Die Pressgëng, Elvellon, Heimataerde, Hell-O-Matic, Ignis Fatuu, Ingrimm, Irdorath, Johnny Deathshadow, Krayenzeit, Letzte Instanz, Mr Hurley und die Pulveraffen, Pampatut, Pat Razket, Schandmaul, Sündenrausch, The Aberlour's, The Moon And The Nightspirit, Torfrock, Visions Of Atlantis, Vroudenspil, Wind Rose and more.

Besides this rich billing of superb Metal bands, there is so much more to see in the festival area including the medieval market and also the walking acts and jugglers you will meet at the theme worlds, including Robert Blake, three-time World Cup winner of street magic.

Wacken Winter Nights is something not to be missed and you can check out the amazing ticket and accommodation prices right here.

We just priced up the whole four day trip with hotels, flights, shuttles and festival tickets for less than £300 and we don't think you will get a better value festival than that, anywhere.


MetalTalk recently sat down with Wacken founder and owner Thomas Jensen and that interview will be online next week and it's a fascinating insight into how Wacken originated from nothing to become the world's premiere Heavy Metal event.


Wacken 2018 takes place from 2nd to 4th August 20218 and as with Wacken Winter Nights, if you have never experienced all it has to offer, then you owe it to yourself to remedy that.

Already announced for Wacken 2018 are Judas Priest, Nightwish, Running Wild (exclusive), Arch Enemy, Dirkschneider, Doro (Special Anniversary Show), In Extremo, Sepultura, Amorphis, Amaranthe, Firewind, W.A.R., Belphegor, Mantar, Knorkator, Deserted Fear, Watain, Night Demon, Epica, Knorkator, Belphegor, Firewind, Deserted Fear and many more and we'll have more Wacken 2018 announcements during December.

As well as being the greatest Heavy Metal festival in the world, it is without a doubt the Mecca of Metal and the one thing that every single person who loves our music should have on their bucket list.

For 2018, MetalTalk have joined forces with Wacken-Open-Air to help you get to Wacken easily and inexpensively and you can peruse the ticket and travel options right here.

If you are interested in going to Wacken 2018 and have questions, please fill out the form below and we will contact you with answers to all your enquiries. You are under no obligation whatsoever by filling this form out. We won't add you to any mailing lists or send you loads of spam - all we will do is help you get to Wacken as easily and inexpensively as possible.



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