Germany's Lifeforce Records has been on a roll this past year or so, quickly becoming one of the world's premier metalcore labels. Lifeforce has released a slew of quality albums by bands like CIPHER SYSTEM, DEADSOIL, BY NIGHT, and HEROD. If you can't get enough of groups that love to mix hardcore with death and thrash metal, and top it all off with a generous helping of melody, then you may have found your new favorite label. (No, I don't work for Lifeforce; I'm just trying to segue here).
Admittedly, I'm not crazy about albums on the label that feature too much in the way of "emo" crooning, but that's a matter of personal taste. I've always preferred the manner in which a band like GOD FORBID (specifically on "Gone Forever") utilizes vocal melodies than, say, any number of Trustkill bands, which brings me to HELL WITHIN's "Asylum of the Human Predator". The Boston quintet's selective use of clean vocals on most of the tracks works surprisingly well. When Matt McChesney isn't shrieking his guts out (often reminding me of Randy Blythe), he manages to switch gears without killing the vibe, a few awkward passages notwithstanding. Now that I've beaten the vocal thing to death, we can move on.
Let's face it, there are tons of bands playing this thrashy style of metalcore, so the big question concerns whether HELL WITHIN (formerly TWYTCH) should move to the upper half of your shopping list. After thoroughly enjoying 10 aggressive tracks played with conviction and delivered in a tight package, I'd have to answer in the affirmative. Stylistically, I can hear elements of everyone from LAMB OF GOD (the tightly wound and choppy riffing) to ALL THAT REMAINS (good balance of caustic delivery and melody). While I tend to prefer the tracks that rip all the way through without a melodic break (the AT THE GATES style of "Soul Revulsion", for example), there weren't any tunes that had me reaching for the "skip" button. The title track is a prime example of a song in which the band strikes the perfect balance between mouth-foaming rage and smooth melody. HELL WITHIN doesn't venture too far off the beaten path, but the occasional composition twists are well timed and effective. For instance, the hardcore gang shouts that surface toward the latter part of "Merchants of the Blood Trade" are a pleasant surprise. A smattering of guitar solos works to break up the arrangements as well.
No grand statement of genre expansion is made on "Asylum of the Human Predator". Regardless, HELL WITHIN has managed to add melody without watering down the aggression. If you're already a fan of many of the acts on the Lifeforce roster (or the Trustkill and Victory labels for that matter), then you'll most certainly want to check out "Asylum of the Human Predator".