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Hella - The Devil Isn't Red CD (album) cover

THE DEVIL ISN'T RED

Hella

 

Post Rock/Math rock

2.62 | 11 ratings

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Cygnus X-2
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars After the release of their tour-de-force debut, Hold Your Horse Is, Hella returned to the studio in 2004 and released this album, simply titled The Devil Isn't Red. As you may or may not know, Hella is a band comprised solely of a guitarist (Spencer Seim) and a drummer (Zach Hill). The music these two create together is a mind-boggling collection of manic riffs and drum patterns that really show the strengths of the musicians themselves. Their debut, Hold Your Horse Is, exemplified those strengths to arguably their maximum degree. With this album, a relatively same sound is retained, and therein lies the problem, there's not really enough diversity between the two albums. Sure, there are some great qualities to the tracks (as I will get to later in this review), but some of the ideas sound like rehashed thoughts from their first effort. Regardless, though, Hella is a band that should not be missed.

Hello Great Architect Of The Universe opens the album with some random number punching on a phone and quickly becomes a nightmarish chord progression and some manic double bass drumming that really comes off as quirky and fun. The song also has an uplifting feel in the chords. It quickly ends, being short and to the point. One can really appreciate Zach Hill's drumming from the get go on this album, as it's essentially off the wall and yet keeps the beat quite well. Bugtime Mad is a single minute of punchy snare drumming and sharp clean chords and ideas that quickly pick up in heaviness and intensity. The Mother Could Be You is more of the same manic chords over drumming. The invention and creativity in the pieces and the sound conveyed in each of the songs really makes the album not sound entirely the same (which from the first few songs I've talked about you may be thinking this album is a lot of the same thing, which essentially it is). Top Twenty Notes continues the same trend of manic drumming and manic guitar chords and progressions. The drumming on this track is superb with a nice balance of hi-hat, bass drum, and snare.

Brown Medal 2003 is the first track to break from the mold. It's a bit of a noisy electronic, clap led, almost danceable tune. The manic percussion and the almost melodic feedback combined with the steady bass drum creates a nice beat to the song before becoming a maelstrom of drum and guitar... like always with Hella. Suistyle begins with a distorted voice that becomes... you guessed it... more manic drums and guitars for about 4 minutes. The Devil Isn't Red once again takes the same avenues as the rest of the album... ongoing trend, eh? Even though the music is essentially in the same style, there is enough variety to keep you listening this far into the album. Your DJ Parents begins with distorted, very electronic sounding drums. It reminds me of video game music, definitely, from some game from the 16-bit era of gaming (Sega Genesis) or even old arcade music, but it's stylistically different than anything on the album itself. Women of the 90's is another guitar and drum led tune that goes through more of the same motions on the album... essentially the rest of the album is like this, so there's no real point in talking about the rest.

Overall, The Devil Isn't Red has some strong musicianship and some strong musical ideas, but the problem with the album is that there is no diversity between the tracks. You could essentially play them all as one song and no one would be the wiser. Your DJ Parents planted the seeds for the kind of direction they would take on their next studio album, Church Gone Wild/Churpin' Hard, which in my opinion is immensely better than this album. It's not bad, but it's just, in my opinion, a rehashing of old ideas under a new moniker. I recommend this Hella album as the last album you get from them. 2.5/5.

Cygnus X-2 | 2/5 |

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