Album: Too Loud to Live, Too Drunk to Die
Label: Metal Blade Records
Gehennah are the basic embodiment of every poser’s worst fears. They are leather clad, real as hell, and absolutely willing to use assault and battery to achieve their goals. Like any credible sort of metal heshers, they are remarkably inconsistent, as Too Loud to Live, Too Drunk to Die is their first full-length release in seventeen years. They have had some EPs between then but this is the first release since 1999 that’s longer than ten minutes.
Of course, there is no evolution to be spoken of here–Gehennah is Gehennah, and they are not going to change up what they’ve been doing since the early ’90s. It would be inaccurate to say that they just do it to sell records because authenticity, even in a tongue-in-cheek sense, is an essential part of Gehennah’s ethos. They are remarkably sincere about their love of crunchy old school metal and Too Loud is no different. It’s not so much stagnation so much as it is the continuation of what Gehennah was already doing since Hardrocker.
It may feel like, in that sense, there is nothing different. Keep in mind it’s been seventeen years. Something had’s to give. And it certainly is–notably in two aspects, the production and the overall feel. This is probably one of Gehennah’s cleanest recordings–there is surprisingly little grime to be found in between every crunchy riff and bellowed lyric. It’s no Blind Guardian but for a band that prides themselves on not showering it’s an interesting choice. Still, it in no way harms the music–every song comes across like Gehennah, clean or not. It’s an interesting choice and it certainly makes it different than the rest of their discography.
The second is the more rock n’ roll sensibility that rings more true of Motörhead than it does their street metal roots. Perhaps it comes with age–many metal bands look more to their roots the older that the get. The result is a swinging and bluesier Gehennah that still plays some bare-knuckle street metal. The structures and lyrics are similar, but the rock aspects on the riffs make for a much newer sound. It works sometimes–I do enjoy the contrast of rock riffs to driving speed metal but it doesn’t resonate with me as much as their earlier albums.
In the moment, it’s a solid listen. They are some incredible songs like the title track and “‘Cause We’re A Street Metal Band” but after it’s over a fair amount of the tracks fail to stick. It’s a great listen and there’s absolutely something of value there but I feel much less inclined to put in on over and over like I do King of the Sidewalk. Of course, street metal is the name of the game and Gehennah could care less if you don’t buy it.
A fair amount of the music I listen to is not very esoteric and thus navel-gazing over it may seem pointless but at the same time it’s important to look at a record’s strengths and weaknesses and critically analyze what is good about it for your own personal use. Just calling an album “solid but not perfect” is a cop-out. Too Loud to Live, Too Drunk to Die does have some unique aspects that make it viable for future listens. On the other hand, it will probably not crack into my personal essential albums of filthy speed metal.
Check it out and buy it here: https://gehennah.bandcamp.com/