I can’t tell if the latest EP from This is Hell is supposed to be a joke, but it isn’t funny. I’ve observed this band plummet over the years, travelling from creative and inspiring down to painfully mediocre, but I think this release hits rock bottom.
But before I talk about the EP I want to talk about the band.
This band only has two original members left; the singer Travis Reilly, and the guitar player Rick Jimenez. From every interview I’ve seen of TIH, including their ‘how to stay buff while on the road’ training video, it is evident that Jimenez calls the shots. The last time I saw them live, their bass player and drummer looked awkwardly out of place while Jimenez rocked a sleeveless TIH t-shirt and looked completely self-absorbed while playing his guitar. This may seem beside the point, but it’s not. If one understands how to arrange music, the hardest thing to deal with is the input of the other band members. The fact that TIH has over eight former members suggests to me, that this band does not function at the heroic level in which they claim. The collaborative process unique to making music is lost on TIH, and nothing exhibits this more than the release of “The Enforcer”.
This four song EP is homage to thrash metal. Concluding with a cover of Metallica’s Whiplash (vinyl only), TIH executes a series of head bangers stocked with mean double kick, the evilest of pinch-harmonics, and of course, life imploding solos. The album is beautifully produced and comes across as well polished and incredibly powerful. That said, the music is hilariously bad, and the only redeeming quality is its ability to become easily lost in the sea of mediocre metal that already exists.
The EP starts with the title track, The Enforcer. When I first heard this song I immediately began laughing out loud, I couldn’t believe this was coming from such a proud hardcore band. But as the novelty wore off I sat there stunned, thinking to myself, they’re serious about this. TIH packs so many cliché’ guitar lines and formulaic song structures into The Enforcer (the song, as well as the album) that it is upsetting. I couldn’t believe my ears, but then I remembered, oh yeah, TIH isn’t good anymore, in fact, they haven’t been good for many years, what was I expecting?
Walking abominations is probably the worst song on the album; It kind of sounds like the boss battle music in Final Fantasy 7, but not nearly as cool (compare for yourself). Sure it has a ripping solo and a decent hook for a chorus, but jesus, it’s a long four minutes.
My favorite track, based solely off its comedic value, is “Flag of the Serpent”. I couldn’t stop listening to this song; I imagine it playing as I dive down to the depth of hell on the wings of a dragon on route to give the devil a high-five while eating a baconator. Perfect example of something beings so bad it’s good. Loved it.
Probably the best song on the album is Whiplash. It sounds like someone other than Reilly was doing vocals for the second half of the track which makes the song tolerable. But overall it’s just a mediocre take on a classic.
This album is a total waste of time and money. If you want to hear better version of these songs, go to your record store and pick up some old Metallica, Pantera, or Slayer. The only statement TIH makes with The Enforcer is that this band is becoming redundant, and that they’re struggling to keep their heads above water. Either TIH calls it quits soon, or they will continue making more terrible albums for years to come. I couldn’t care either way, although, it would be interesting to watch this band devolve even further.