The early to mid-80s are seen as a simpler time for heavy metal, but it might be more appropriate to say that things were just more ambiguous back then. It was a time when extremities were developing beyond their infancy but descriptors like black and power metal were used more often as arbitrary lyrical tags than they were to describe musical content. Plenty of bands nowadays emulate that era but very few of them approach the sincerity that Satan’s Hallow of Chicago exerts at full force on their full-length debut.
As “Reaching for the Night” kicks things off in a speedy fashion, it’s made immediately clear that Satan’s Hallow has no interest in tongue in cheek winks to the audience. That is not to say the group is a dead serious, “no fun allowed” band but rather that they don’t treat their style and influences like novelties the way that a lot of their peers tend to do. The songs throughout channel plenty of influence from Riot and Warlock among countless others and the presentation mixes the anthemic and the macabre without a single trace of irony to be found.
In addition, Satan’s Hallow stands out for their incredibly energetic performances. The vocal performance demands the most attention as they shriek like an American Doro Pesch in her prime but the music sticks out further due to the constantly upbeat drumming, gritty bass work, and twin guitars that are both melodic and dark. The production also has a nice best of both worlds setup, managing to not have too much of that modern polish but also avoiding the tinny tone associated with some of the more obscure 80s classics.
But what really makes the band stand out is the fact they remembered to make the songs on their debut both varied and catchy as hell. Just about every type of early 80s track is represented though the bulk of them such as “Hot Passion” and “Beyond the Bells” have the street flair of Riot and Accept. In addition, the band’s title song is a bouncy Mercyful Fate-style horror show and “Still Alive” almost reaches early Dokken with its more subdued tempo and melodicism. It’s even more astounding when you consider that the album’s nine songs are delivered in just a little over thirty-four minutes.
Satan’s Hallow is a safe recommendation for anyone who has a love for anything resembling 80s metal. While many of their peers seem to be patting themselves on the back for merely existing, this group goes the extra mile to deliver a debut that is energetic, catchy, and fun. There is no hesitation when I say that this is one of the most refreshing old school albums that I’ve heard in some time and Satan’s Hallow is a group that I hope to keep rooting for in the future.
“Reaching For The Night”
“Beyond the Bells”