Howling Bull Records, 1999

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Here's three words you probably never thought you'd see put together. Ready? Here goes, say it with me: Japanese death metal.

There now, wasn't that fun?

In all actuality, Hellchild's latest release, Bareskin, has some very enjoyable moments, but in the end falls prey to the same pitfalls that bedevil (oops, wrong choice of words for this genre) most death metal. First, the sound becomes very formulatic, especially disturbing because this album is just over a half-hour in length. Second, it doesn't matter whether they're singing in English, Japanese or Lebanese; I can't understand a damned thing they're saying, even with the lyric sheet. (Counterpoint: sometimes, not knowing what they're saying tends to cast a more ominous shadow over the music. If that's the way you like it, that's fine with me.)my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The band - vocalist Tsukasa Harakawa, guitarist Elichiro Suzuki, bassist Yasuo Satoh and drummer Junichi Harashima - is interesting to listen to at the start of Bareskin, and not because of their nationaty. Instead, they capture the liseer with some wonderful musicanship on tracks like "Self-Scorn," "In This Freezing Night" and "The Answer". The first half of the disc is enough to make someone regain interest in this genre.

But where Hellchild has its difficulty is in keeping the sound fresh. By the time you get to tracks like "Escape," "Single Color Of Myself" and "Acceptance," you almost find yourself wishing that the band would do something different. In all fairness, they do answer the challenge with a different vocal style on "Another Kind Of Bravery".

Now, in all fairness, Hellchild is not death metal in the truest sense of the words, but neither are they your typical run-of-the-mill metal band. With a lyric sheet that will make you think if you take the time to read it, Hellchild proves that they will be a band to watch in the future. If only they could keep injecting new twists into their music to keep the listener on their toes.

Bareskin is a disc that should get you interested in the death metal genre if you've spent some time away from it, but Hellchild still has yet to achieve perfection with their craft. But at least they're on the right path.

Rating: B-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2000 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Howling Bull Records, and is used for informational purposes only.