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Jarring but interesting

There's No 666 in Outer Space
There's No 666 in Outer Space
By Hella

Ipecac Recordings: 2007

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This review first appeared in Turbula in April 2007.

One of the MySpace fan pages for the Sacramento-based Hella describes the band's sound as "experimental / progressive / techno" (MySpace allowing you to choose up to three styles to describe yourself); the band's apparently offficial page simply says "other."

That latter might be the most accurate, as the band's new full-length CD, "There's No 666 in Outer Space" is an often-jarring, sometimes dissonant but always interesting amalgamation of metal, arena, punk, alternative and just plain weird music.

Recently fleshed out to a five-piece (the band was an instrumental guitar-and-drums duo for several years), the band's sound is both fuller than and consistent with the earlier work as a duo. It's most likely a case of founders Zach Hill (drums) and Spencer Seim (guitars) seeing what they could do with a broader palette.

Which varies song by song, frankly. "Let Your Heavies Out" has a Rush feel to it, with an insistent, almost rushed rhythm and wall of sound approach. "Friends Don't Let Friends Win" is an industrial, atonal bit of noise rock. "Hand That Rocks the Cradle" melds free jazz, punk, Frank Zappa, Funkadelic and Led Zeppelin into some kind of cooking bit of syncopated art of noise.

The one consistent thread to all of this, besides the swirling beats and sense of exploration, is the vocals of Aaron Ross. From the Robert Plant school of rock singer screeching, Ross' brings an intensity to each song that marks every track from the new Hella.