Immaturity is a common trait for a lot of bands that are influenced by Bathory and Hellhammer. North Carolina trio All Hell isn’t one of those bands. If you do some digging on All Hell, you’re likely to find the tags “blackened,” “speed,” “thrash,” and “punk.” All justifiable definitions that can be applied to The Witch’s Grail no matter how many ways you want to rearrange four words. What really gives All Hell’s fourth album, The Witch’s Grail a shot in the arm can be summed up in one word: class.
Getting back to the influences that were mentioned, savagery is a trait that bands of the Bathory/Hellhammer persuasion possess and in a majority of cases is an unrelenting onslaught. Even as All Hell still gets down and dirty on “Tonight We Ride” and “Fluers du Mal,” The Witch’s Grail’s pacing feels deliberate and dare I say noble. It is a bit paradoxical to apply such gentile terms to blacked speed punks, which can have a sleazy aesthetic, but All Hell seems ummm…..hell-bent on defying expectations on The Witch’s Grail.
A few reviews ago I threw around the term gothic thrash and as much as I’ve been avoiding the urge to unearth it, it’s really difficult not to apply it to The Witch’s Grail. Perhaps it’s with the trio’s influences in mind, but there’s a prevailing feeling throughout the album that All Hell is rationing their speed-frenzied fury and as a result, produce brooding nocturnal masterpieces “Into the Trees,” “Where Devils Once Danced,” and epic album closer “The Invisible World.” In addition, “Black Blood” is another noteworthy track that gives listeners a best of both worlds scenario, starting off with a chuggy dirge that blasts off into pure speed mayhem.
With ten tracks in total, The Witch’s Grail has the appearance of a daunting listen, but at forty minutes and some change, the album’s flow is very natural and as a listener it never feels like you’re forcing yourself to give the album a spin. To call The Witch’s Grail grail charming would be exaggerating things just a little bit, but if there’s such a thing as gentleman thrashers, All Hell are definitely worthy of the title.