The Dance of the Four Elemental Serpents


"The Dance of the Four Elemental Serpents" is the third official release from Chilean blackened […]
By SJ Losci
December 25, 2022
Hellish - The Dance of the Four Elemental Serpents album cover

"The Dance of the Four Elemental Serpents" is the third official release from Chilean blackened thrash band HELLISH. The South American head-bangers have spent over a decade honing their razor-sharp chops on the edges of the Teutonic stone laid down by such luminaries as TANKARD, DESTRUCTION and SODOM, and have added their own blackened spice to the putrid mix. Having replaced former singer Neuromancer with bassist and lead vocalist Cristopher Aravena, the band seems to be reinvigorated with the methamphetamine-like charge of his vocal screeches and deft bass-playing. The musicianship on this record is staggeringly competent, with the guitars of Franscisco Sanhueza and Javier Salgado weaving in and out of the sonic destruction wrought by Aravena and drummer Cristian León.

First song "The Ancient Entity of the Darkest Light" jumps off to an auspicious start with Sanhueza and Salgado tremolo-picking their way over an impossibly fast thrash beat by León and some insane bass riffage by Aravena. Second song "Black Stones" builds on this template, diving into KREATOR-like carnage and opening up the song to some wicked lead playing from Sanhueza. It's clear, from just these two songs alone, that HELLISH are a finely-tuned machine of blackened thrash ruination.  Throughout the album, the chord progressions are tremolo-picked exercises in moving up and down the frets and establishing musical shapes within that meter long piece of wood.  The finger-picked bass lines throb and pulsate.

"Violent, Bloody and Cold" begins slowly and ominously.  The guitars sustain nastily, pulsating over the three-chord progression laid down by the bass and drums.  It has a strange, 1980s post-punk vibe to it, almost VOIVOD-esque. Aravena's fragile growl echoes over the dissonance, before a simple, dark lead builds the bridge to the song's final act.  The song stops and a brutal rhythm ensues, an ENSLAVED-like build to a full on thrash assault.  Again, the bass figures prominently in this outro, note-for-note meeting the guitars for an ambidextrous display of metal powers. The song is one of many highlights on an album that consistently brings the highlights.

The final song "The Dance of the Four Elemental Serpents" begins with a 45-second old-school guitar solo before launching into an almost ethereal like combination of killer sweeps and murderous finger-tapping on top of some Hellish blast beats. There's another geometric death-dance over the fretboard, as the guitars do the heavy melodic lifting.  The song is a relentless display of blackened thrash inspiration, and an encapsulation of the songs that came before it.  It even includes a little isolated bass run.

If there's any criticism of HELLISH's latest album, it's a small one. If you chisel off one minute from each of these songs, you'd get something absolutely epic: a unique combination of punk rock utility and the musicianship that characterizes technical death metal, which this is most assuredly not.  It doesn't have the on-the-nose production that a lot of tech bands incorporate into their sound.  It's dirty. It's black. It's violent, bloody and cold. It's a relentless, non-stop display of metal prowess.

8 / 10









"The Dance of the Four Elemental Serpents" Track-listing:

1. The Ancient Entity of the Darkness Light
2. Black Stones
3. Violent, Bloody & Cold
4. Goddess Death
5. Nocturnal Trudge
6. Secrets of the Sands
7. Dreamlike Fears
8. The Dance of the Four Elemental Serpents

Hellish Lineup:

Cristopher Aravena - Vocals and Bass
Francisco Sanhueza - Guitars
Javier Salgado - Guitars and Backing Vocals
Cristian León - Drums

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