Although Human Remains is the so-to-say debut album of British heavy metal band Hell, their story begins a lot earlier than that. About 30 years from now, to be specific. Formed in 1982, they toured heavily during the early '80s and eventually split up in 1987 following the tragic suicide of their singer, Dave Halliday, and never actually got to record an album. Some 20 years later they reformed and today they feature renowned guitarist/producer Andy Sneap and vocalist David Bower, the brother of guitarist Kevin Bower, in their ranks.
There are no newly-written songs on Human Remains but a selection of revamped song from the '80s which never got to be recorded on a full-length album. After a short, orchestral track, the album kicks off with the amazing On Earth As It Is In Hell, which actually is one of the best heavy metal songs I've heard in a long, long time and without a doubt a future live classic (once again!). The guitar sound is incredible and the overall sound is great - which is a relief since I have some mixed feelings regarding Andy Sneap in this matter.
Next song is the majestic Plague And Fyre, where David Bower really comes into his right. Apart from how well he sings the higher tones, he has an incredibly theatrical voice that adds a lot to the songs and brings an extra dimension to the music.
The album continues in the same spirit with the slower and heavier The Oppressors, the epic Blasphemy And The Master, the old concert-opener Let Battle Commence and the more experimental The Devil's Deadly Weapons. Great songs, all of them.
To say something remotely critical about this album: I don't really care for The Quest or Macbeth. They are good songs - more than just "good" songs, even - but I just don't feel that they are at the same level as the rest of the songs. Save Us From Those Who Would Save Us, however,is a great song that definitely will get stuck in your head for a long time and when the last tones echo out after the epic, heavy composition No Martyr's Cage, I can't help but want more.
Apart from the overall pure quality of all the riffs and vocals, one of the biggest strengths of Human Remains is the attention to detail - small variations and nuances here and there which make every song stand out; and the songs just keep getting better and better every time I listen to them.Hopefully their debut album, after almost 30 years, will finally gain Hell the acknowledgement they deserve.