Epic Heavy/Doom Metal from Germany
Having come out at the tail end of 2017, Old Mother Hell’s debut isn’t too recent. However, they’ve recently received a much wider distribution and have absolutely been kicking my ass so I’ll be making an exception for this wonderful band!
Old Mother Hell, a dynamic trio from Germany, formed back in 2015. They toiled for a couple of years before releasing their self titled debut album independently in late 2017. This debut is so good it attracted the attention of Cruz del Sur, who picked them up earlier in the year. Cruz are without a doubt one of the highest quality labels in the game today with a number of modern classic bands under their belt; Atlantean Kodex, Battleroar, Crescent Shield, Pharaoh, Ravensire, Sacral Rage, Slough Feg, Twisted Tower Dire, and many, many more I didn’t list here for the sake of brevity. Most of the bands Cruz associate themselves with are quality – this alone made it a must listen for me.
While not infallible, Enrico’s ear for talent is undeniable – Old Mother Hell are no exception to this rule. From the album opener, “Another War”, it becomes clear that we’re in for a heavy as hell ride. Old Mother Hell play a brand of epic heavy metal that is deeply rooted in doom, fans of bands like Atlantean Kodex, Doomsword, Isen Torr, and Solstice will find themselves very comfortable and at home here. However, to say that this is another solely doom inspired release would not be doing the band justice. I hear a healthy amount of other influences such as the signature Iron Maiden-esque NWOBHM sound featured on songs like “Howling Wolves”.
By far my favorite part of the album are the tremendous vocals coming out of Bernd Wener. Wener’s vocals are equally massive and charismatic. They’re big and energetic yet they retain a certain grit to them that more-or-less every German seems to magically possess. The vocal melodies are varied and very nice to listen to. Wener is also the guitarist for the band and is just as talented in that department. His guitar riffs are equal parts crushing and catchy.
A band playing this style requires a strong low-end and rhythm to round it all out. Ruben André on drums and Ronald Senft on bass do a fantastic job in this sense. These three work quite well together and the result is a fluid, well-crafted debut. The production is shockingly strong for a band’s debut. It does a wonderful job highlighting Wener’s epic vocals while giving room for the music to crush you in the best way possible.
The biggest flaw I see with Old Mother Hell’s first effort is the length. Clocking in at just thirty-four minutes and six tracks, I’m left feeling like I’m missing something here. Personally, I feel that such doom inspired and epic albums should be closer to forty minutes or perhaps a bit longer. I think another track here would have made sense and rounded the album out nicely.
At the end of the day, we have a very, very solid debut from a young band. It’s a refreshing take on epic heavy/doom metal while staying true to the genre’s roots. This is definitely a band to keep an eye for in the future!
Favorite Track: Mountain
Album Rating: 88/100