Have you ever imagined what it would feel like to be flung headfirst into the underworld?
Probably not much. It might not sound too tempting, but it could actually be a laugh, couldn’t it? A bit like a rollercoaster, or one of those haunted house rides.
‘Hell Is Here’, the second album by Chicago noise disciples HIDE, recreates the grinding journey into the pits of existence, pulverising down further and further down until there’s nothing left but an ugly, minced mess. It’s not a pretty ride, but at least you won’t be wondering what it feels like anymore.
Opener ‘Chainsaw’ sets the stall out early. Painfully churning dial-up drone builds and builds and builds and builds to... well, nothing. It’s clear from an early point that HIDE expect you to earn your access to the good times.
On ‘999’ lead singer Heather Gabel is a woman possessed. Her pained growl is the stuff of nightmares. HIDE certainly aren’t happy about something, it’s just hard to gather what it is they’re fuming about. When anger sounds this good though, who really cares what it’s all about.
The pain doesn’t stop there. ‘Everyone’s Dead’ and ‘Hell’ continue with the pulsating, relentless noise. By the end of this one-two punch, it’s hard not to feel completely, brilliantly, worn down. The churning beats of the former in particular challenge you to keep going. Easy listening this most certainly is not.
From this point in it’s much of the same. You know from track one what you’re getting with HIDE. There’s no nuance on play here. The group might only have one gear, but by God they use that gear well. With lesser groups this single-mindedness would quickly wear thin, but HIDE’s masterful use of anti-tune only adds to their charm.
Static standout ‘1_2 Trash’ pulverises the listener with a quite frankly psychotic doom rave four-to-the-floor beat. The track caves your head in, flinging you face first into the blood-stained abyss. At this point, you really wouldn’t expect any less.
Towards the back end of the record there are hints of some sort of finale. ‘Grief’ in particular teases some sort of climax to the noise, before quickly crashing back down to earth with such a disturbing thud. This group don’t mess about with endings. Because of this, it comes to no surprise that closer ‘Raw Dream’ gives us much of the same.
With ‘Hell Is Here’, HIDE have shown that a quick trip to the dark side might not actually be a laugh, but it can be somewhat enjoyable, as long as you don’t mind the static.
Words: Jack Doherty
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