Label: Dying Victims Productions
It can be a pleasant surprise when a record lives up to your expectations. Just look at that artwork and title! Even if you’re unfamiliar with the band’s back catalogue, everything about the latest EP from Power from Hell suggests blasphemous black-thrash, and Blood ‘n’ Spikes does not disappoint. The record sees the band maintain their record of releasing solid black-thrash, equal parts early Bathory and Sarcofago, howling for sex, drinks and metal whilst drawing pentagrams in blood upon basement walls. And then they top it all off with a Judas Priest cover. Killer!
With song titles like ‘Hell’s Gangbang’, ‘Swallowed by Darkness’, and ‘Altars of the Black Rites’, you probably already have a good idea if Blood ‘n’ Spikes is for you or not. Razor-sharp leads are backed up by pounding drums, whilst the vocals are commands from the depths of Hell, in the same way that Quorthon’s were on those first three Bathory albums. This is not a record concerned in the slightest with sophistication or subtlety – everything is apparent from the first listen, with the record’s only focuses being speed, aggression, and blasphemy – just as black-thrash should be.
As this might imply, Blood ‘n’ Spikes is not a record concerned with expanding upon what black-thrash can be. Instead, it’s a celebration of all that is good about blasphemous, Satanic metal that recalls the old masters – if it weren’t for the fact that the production is better than anything those key albums in the 80’s had, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Blood ‘n’ Spikes was some long-lost underground classic. Well, that, and the cover of ‘Freewheel Burning’. The Judas Priest classic is treated with suitable reverence, but Power from Hell add a layer of dirt and viciousness that helps it stand apart from the original. It does over-shadow the other five tracks on the record slightly, but that’s the risk with covering such a well-known song by a band held in such high regard; it’s not that Power from Hell’s own compositions are bad (far from it!), but ‘Freewheel Burning’ is an absolute classic of metal, and any band would struggle to cover it and not have it stand out.
This shouldn’t be held against Power from Hell though. Instead, it demonstrates their devotion to metal as something to be enjoyed; sure, their songs may be steeped in blasphemy and violence, but they recognise that metal can be fun. Reveling in its own extremes and absurdities, with some great songs and a killer cover, Blood ‘n’ Spikes is everything black thrash should be.