Hells Unholy Fire
posted on 5/2012 By:
Nunslaughter poses something of an interesting question – in their twenty-five year existence, they’ve offered up approximately 118 releases, be those LPs or splits or EPs or live albums or compilations or demos or DVDs or boxed sets. So the question is, of course: Who is buying all of this, and how could they possibly keep up? In 2004 alone, the band released nine EPs, five splits and a compilation. In 2009, they released one comp, two splits, three EPs and what must be a record four live albums.
In those 118 releases, there are only three full-length records, of which Hell’s Unholy Fire is the first, now reissued by Hell’s Headbangers some twelve years after its initial appearance. (For all their prolificacy, the band got off to a slow start – in their first thirteen years, they only managed a dozen releases. And, y’know, just a mere 106 in the twelve years since.) And while this reissue doesn’t answer the question of how in unholy hell a fan could possibly stay on top of Nunslaughter’s prodigious post-millennium output, it does help answer the question of why they’d want to try to round up at least some of it…
The band has dubbed their brand of old-school death “devil metal,” and that’s as apt a description as any. This is ragged and thrash-based, Master plus Venom, with all the latter’s cartoonish, tongue-in-cheek Satanism intact. In their quarter century of existence, Nunslaughter has done their part to keep death metal firmly rooted in its primitive earliest days – they eschew progression and technicality, instead contenting themselves with bashing out simple riffs in short songs, largely about how much they hate all things Christian. All but three tracks on Hell’s Unholy Fire clock in at less than two minutes, and the opening track “I Am Death” spends almost a third of its nearly three-minute running time on a sound sample of crackling fire. This is death metal stripped of all bells, whistles, frills, bullshit, flash, anything beyond a couple of riffs and Don Of The Dead’s growled (and completely clearly intelligible) lyrics.
Given the band’s Venom-esque attack, the production of Hell’s Unholy Fire is suitably roughshod, and between that trademark chaotic approach and the raw recording values, some listeners may find the band amateurish, but that’s not exactly the case. Nunslaughter may be a bit sloppy, but like Midnight (with whom they share a band member), they’re exactly as tight and proficient as they need to be. This is not an exercise in musical skill or complexity – it’s a celebration of metal in its rawest form, and as such, it’s a hell of a ride. By taking death metal back to its roots and stripping away any and all extraneous information, Nunslaughter creates metal both primal and, for lack of a less ridiculous term when applied to songs about raping nuns and burning churches, catchy. Witness the bouncy drums-and-vocal verse of “Burning Away” or the swaggering riffs of “Blasphemy” or the singalong chugging chorus of “Death By The Dead”…
This reissued version of Hell’s Unholy Fire also contains a bonus disc, the An Evening At War live album, which was originally released in 2007 and limited to 100 copies. I can’t speak for the quality of that live recording – my promo copy didn’t include it – but Unholy Fire stands alone well enough to be a worthy inclusion in the collection of any death metal fan, so any bonus material added on is just that, a bonus.
If you’re the one guy who has all 118 or so Nunslaughter releases, you probably don’t need this, but then again, why stop collecting now? And if you haven’t dedicated your life and one room in your house to hunting down Nunslaughter memorabilia, but yet you still have a hankering for some seriously vicious thrashing death metal, then here you go, because when it comes to basic blasphemy, Nun is better than most.
(Also, with this parenthetical aside, this review comes to exactly 666 words.)
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