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Reviews

Root: Hell symphony

24/04/12  ||  gk

“Hell Symphony”, the second album from Root, sees the band further experimenting with their proto black metal sound. The influences got a bit broader and the songwriting got more focused but also more adventurous at the same time. It’s this ability to write great songs while experimenting with all sorts of different ideas that is at the heart of Root’s endurance.

The album starts with “Beelzebub*. It’s a thrash instrumental that veers between a mid paced thrash riff and a harsher, blacker riff before ending with a deadly black thrash piece and the sudden inclusion of an acoustic guitar. The song is an effective opener and shows already the progress the band has made since the debut. “Belial” starts where the first song left off and an urgent acoustic melody makes way for a strange and slightly off kilter thrash riff. Big Boss makes his entrance like only he can with a typically over the top vocal line and the song effortlessly moves between thrash and a mid paced melodic feel. “Lucifer” is mid paced and doomy with Boss trying out a bunch of different vocal approaches.

Bang in the middle of the album is “Satan”. It’s basically a drum solo from Black Drum with Big Boss half shouting/ half reciting the lyrics. It’s a song that perhaps goes on for a bit too long. Going from dark and unsettling to slightly comical thanks to Big Boss’s unfettered shouting, it’s a strange wtf moment in the middle of a heavy and dark album. Later on, there’s “Leviathan” that has the kind of black n roll riff that’s being mined to this day and is just a supremely addictive song with some great riffs. “Astaroth” is dissonant, noisy and harsh with some solid NWOBHM inspired soloing but then abruptly changes into an a capella and Big Boss shows us a glimmer of that baritone and what would become the band’s trademark in the future.

While “Zjeveni” was almost a collection of demos, “Hell Symphony” was a new effort and the band was beginning to combine its influences and ideas into a cohesive whole. Blackie or Petr Hosek had some killer riffs and his ability to meld strange, dissonant riffs with traditional thrash and heavy metal was really beginning to show. Big Boss was yet to settle on a vocal style but he’s effective here. I still can’t decide if I like Black Drum’s drumming. He sounds good in places, pretty unimaginative in other places and every now and then like a drum machine. The drum sound is a bit dodgy, the lead guitar tone a little muffled, the bass doesn’t make any impression and not all the ideas work. Still, when the songs do work (which is more often than not the case), Root is pretty fucking great.
Also, the I Hate reissue from 2008 throws in 5 bonus songs, 3 of which are live songs.

This is a clear progression for the band. “Hell Symphony” played a major part in the development of this band and is a classy piece of work. The band’s sound would come together even more powerfully on their third album but more than 20 years later “Hell Symphony” has held up remarkably well.

8,5

  • Information
  • Released: 1990
  • Label: Zeras
  • Website: Root MySpace
  • Band
  • Big Boss: vocals
  • Petr “Blackie” Hošek: guitars, bass
  • Mr. D.A.N.: guitars
  • Black Drum: drums
  • Tracklist
  • 01. Belzebub
  • 02. Belial
  • 03. Lucifer
  • 04. Abaddon
  • 05. Asmodeus
  • 06. Satan
  • 07. Leviathan
  • 08. Astaroth
  • 09. Loki
  • 10. The Prayers