Getting Into: Hallows Eve
In my ongoing quest to bring some solid fucking thrash metal to the board, let me present thee Hallows Eve. Hallows Eve is a cult Atlanta-based metal band, formed in the early 80's who're known as one of the earliest bands to pioneer speed and thrash metal. Despite their pioneering work and impact on the thrash scene, Hallows Eve somehow always stayed a sort of overlooked and overshadowed band. Notwithstanding their obscure stature as forgotten classic, the first Hallows Eve's albums are still regarded by many as some of the best thrash albums ever (dixit Tartarean Desire Webzine for example).
Whatever the case may be, Hallows Eve seems like a perfect addition to the acclaimed Getting Into-series whatsoever. So here's my share in keeping it true.
| Tales Of Terror (1985)|
In 1985 Atlanta's first-ever thrash band amazed the world for the first time with "Tales Of Terror", a shock and horror-themed, but most of all badass thrashing album. In all likelihood "Tales Of Terror" will end up as the most manic and aggressive album in the Hallows Eve discography. It's also the album where vocalist Stacy Andersen seemingly puts forth the widest range of vocals (clean, high-pitched, growling, screaming, you name it).
"Tales Of Terror" is arguably Hallows Eve's "simplest" album to date but astonishing in its flexibility: it is deceptively powerful and insightfully contagious and, to be blunt, it's a downright kickass album. Back in the day "Tales Of Terror" was an instant classic: dead straight, astonishingly sharp but awfully short. Whatever. It won't get any more old school than this, folks.
|Death & Insanity (1986)|
Only one year later, Hallows Eve returned with yet another eye-popping album "Death & Insanity". Most of the material for this sophomore album was already written in the same period as "Tales Of Terror" and "Death & Insanity" does indeed sounds like a perfect successor to the debut album. Again it's some sort of concept-themed album, this time based around "death" (in fact the working title of the album was entitled "An Essay On Death"). But also music-wise this album sounds much rawer than its predecessor.
Creativity and variety have always been key on Hallows Eve albums. Moreover on "Death & Insanity" the band experiments a lot and not a single song ends up sounding the same as another. Heavy, fast 'n tight, more melodic or more technical, the album really has it all. This album is relying on tempo alternated with catchy solos and crunchy riffs, more than anything else. By times it's even getting pretty cheesy* to some degree, also due to those lyrics.
* By cheesy I don't mean cheesy as it may be used in other contexts today, but cheesy as in over the top and silly. You know, the kind of cheesiness that was still acceptable back in those days.
"Monument" is regarded as Hallows Eve most professional release of the eighties. While the other two albums were recorded in only a few days, it took the band two months of studio-time before "Monument" was done. Nonetheless the band once again delivers, yet this time more mid-paced, thrashy and crunchy than speedy. In fact, looking at the overall Hallows Eve discography "Monument" more or less marks the end of the speed-era. Don't get me wrong, the music is still remarkably thrashy and paced, it's just that the tempo is a bit more sedated compared to the earlier releases, and more and more grooves are seeping into the typical Hallows Eve sound. And again we can loosely consider this Hallows Eve album as a concept-themed album, this time based around anxiety.
The least you can say is that on "Monument" Hallows Eve succeeded to reinvent themselves as thrash pioneers, coming up with yet another short, catchy and straightforward album with a very self-willed yet tasty Queen cover.
The Fall And Rise Of Hallows Eve
Hallows Eve will always be a band having to cope with many line up changes. The amount of drummers this band has worn out is almost taking spinaltapian proportions and over the years, more than two dozen musicians once played as part of Hallows Eve one way or another - which is pretty impressive to say the least.
One day in the early nineties Stacy Andersen was really fed up with the constant line up changes that were taking its toll as the band was falling apart. As the story goes, he took a bus back home effectively ending the band.
Hallows Eve reunited in early 2004.
|Evil Never Dies (2005) |
Thank everything that is sacred and holy in this world evil will never die. The proof: after seventeen years, Hallows Eve finally made their comeback. "Evil Never Dies" is arguably the darkest Hallows Eve album, mainly because of the more mid-paced music and almost death metal-ish grunts, in any way more extreme-based vocals, on certain songs. Of course this can be no surprise as the album is once again some sort of concept album, putting accent to the abstract idea of death metal. Surprising however, is to see bassist Tommy Stewart, the only original member left at this point and also the absolute moving force behind the band at all times, handling the vocal duties - in other words this is the only album without Stacy Andersen.
Due to the more mid-paced sound, it all gets a bit more technical and static, and compared to the three earlier releases this is a pretty disappointing letdown as the obvious thrash metal the band is known for suddenly isn't so obvious any more after all. "Evil Never Dies" is undoubtedly the hardest album to get into, yet it is also the most criticized Hallows Eve album. Nonetheless "Evil Never Dies" seems like a very logical step in the whole interesting evolution and turbulent history of the band.
|The Never-Ending Sleep (2008)|
Twenty-five years after the band got together, Hallows Eve releases their fifth studio album, "The Never-Ending Sleep". "The Never-Ending Sleep" is building on the pitch-black fundaments layered on "Evil Never Dies". Once again, the music is downtuned, but sounds more solid and mature but also cleaner this time, borrowing several elements from the strong US power metal scene. Though, according to bassist Tommy Stewart, "The Never-Ending Sleep" should be considered "a conscious effort to achieve the feel and sound of "Tales of Terror" and "Death and Insanity" - think of it what you want. On top of that, "The Never-Ending Sleep" marks the return of original vocalist Stacy Andersen - a welcome reunion whatsoever.
"The Never-Ending Sleep" can be seen as the heaviest Hallows Eve album in terms of power and crunch, but is in any way an attempt to return to the classic thrash sound. Hallows Eve made up for the mixed feelings and sour aftertaste of "Evil Never Dies" by delivering a quality product once again.
According to a posting on the band's MySpace by (current) guitarist Doyle Bright, Hallows Eve have begun work on a new album in the meantime.
Legendary or not, Hallows Eve is definitely a band you should have heard of at least once in your life, certainly when you want to take yourself as being a thrash metal amateur/maniac seriously.
Hallows Eve has always been a relentless, self-willed but above all appealing band never afraid to try out new things and to explore new grounds (probably also the reason why they never made it big). In fact the whole intention of the band from the beginning already was to create music that is diversified, and the band always held to that word as not a single Hallows Eve album (and even song) sounds exactly the same. As said, back in the day Hallows Eve's material was very influential and their music probably had impact on a lot more bands than one would think.
Somebody had to tell you about Hallows Eve sooner or later - do with it as you please.
Hallows Eve in 2008
PS: For the one's interested, a few years ago some particular record label released a very nice Hallows Eve deluxe box set entitled "History Of Terror", including re-mastered versions of the band's first three album, piles of live, demo and rehearsal material and a bonus DVD, with a total playing time of over 200 minutes.
Hallows Eve (MySpace): [Link]
Xtreem Music (biography): [Link]
No Life 'til Metal (cd gallery):[Link]
Metalfan.nl (interview): [Link]
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Grumpy Old Fuck
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