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 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

MUSIC

 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
Hella
The Devil Isn't Red
5 Rue Christine Records

Rating: NR/10 ?


October 1, 2004
If Don Caballero and King Crimson played on the same stage, could you handle it? Moreover, if they condensed every ounce of power they had into two members - drum and guitar - could you help but be ear-bleedingly impressed?

Enter Hella. The Devil Isn't Red shouldn't come as any surprise to those who've followed their supremely lauded career, as they deserve more than my measly opening paragraph. This continues in a line of torturous, exploding instrumental rock that makes the most intense screamo banshees seem even more like yowling alley cats. Every few moments, in all the wrath and bloodlust, there is a perplexing question: "There are only two of them?" Indeed, just an implausibly talented duo; Hella is too good to be believed.

Speed is the key, as their rapid pace seems faster as they continue on, far past any imagined tolerance levels. Just when you think your heart couldn't go faster in the thick of all this tension, it quickens to match the fury of the album. There is nothing else out there like this twosome, and for all the ups and downs of instrumental rock- the touting and criticizing of math, the emptiness and monotony that have evolved- Hella seems to be the one true saving grace of severe, vocal-free bliss.

It's admittedly difficult to pick this apart track by track; as it seems that swallowing the album whole is its sadistic intention. Separately, each cut is as blistering as the last, but taking it in all at once comes inches shy from killing you. I believe this is the first aim of the album.

"Hello Great Architect of the Universe" begins matters by establishing an impossible-to-follow pattern of weaving guitars and staccato drum beats. Just when you feel you could discern a melody, it churns into something tighter and doesn't look back. Tracks like these leave the audience in the dust, as they are intended to.

"The Mother Could Be You" attempts to pull a similar trick, though this time, the melody is precisely the point. In what could recount an forceful cinematic battle scene, we're left to pound our heads in rhythmic anticipation until the streets clear.

As the album continues on, a second purpose rises to the surface: that of striking range. If the continued volume and compact membership isn't enough to bowl you over, Hella finds a way to distinguish each noisy track from the next: "Brown Medal 2003" feels slightly like IDM, though the instruments are live, which makes the track more cunning. "Suistyle" has a bit of swing, and "Except No Subs" is dark and trippy. If the most common critique of instrumental music today is that all the songs sound the same, or that it doesn't make a lasting mark in this modern day, Hella proves we'd given up too soon.

As the disc concludes, you are left confused and short of breath, with only a trail of destruction to show that anyone had been there. Hella's path is as mysterious as it is lasting: who knows how they did it, but they've left permanent damage.

Reviewed by Sarah Peters
A former music editor and staff writer for LAS, Sarah Peters recently disappeared. Perhaps one day she will surface again, who knows.

See other reviews by Sarah Peters

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