Album Title: To Hell And Back
Label: Napalm Records
Date of Release: 2 June 2023
When a band is comprised of bassist David Ellefson (ex-Megadeth), ex-Decapitated drummer Michał Łysejko, and vocalist/guitarist Guilherme Miranda previously of Entombed A.D. fame, I’d be a silly man to not at least check out their musical offering. The band that this trio has spawned goes by the name of Dieth and ‘To Hell And Back’ is the chosen title of this, their debut full-length outing. The press releases suggests that the metal world was set ablaze by their debut single, ‘In The Hall Of The Hanging Serpents’ when it was released last year. Somehow, if that was true, I completely missed the burning inferno, and so I arrive at this review with zero knowledge of the band or their music, save for the line-up.
And with a line-up like this, I knew not to expect something soft, whimsical, and twee. I expected it to be heavy and powerful and that’s exactly what transpires to be the case on ‘To Hell And Back’. It’s a ‘no frills’ ride, one that takes us to the environs of classic heavy metal, with plenty of death metal, and thrash for good measure. In many ways, the relative simplicity works in its favour, as was the case with Entombed A.D., as well as the likes of Sepultura and Obituary. That spiteful attitude, the musical equivalent of sticking two fingers up at all around them, is evident throughout this record. It’s like ‘To Hell And Back’ is both a hard-hitting heavy metal record, and a kind of therapy session for the trio; we’ve all read about the recent sagas with David Ellefson, for example, so I suspect this provided plenty of fuel to an already robust fire.
I’ve got to be absolutely honest right from the outset and declare that I am torn by ‘To Hell And Back’. On the one hand, there are some great moments that I’ll highlight in a moment, and I like the furious energy that crackles within various cuts on the album. However, having given the record a fair few spins, I’m still not sure whether I am completely sold. There are a few missteps along the way which undermine things a touch, whilst there’s a nagging feeling that I cannot shake, that the music just lacks…urgh…something. And that ‘something’ is proving elusive to pinpoint.
Being the generally positive dude that I am (oi, pipe down at the back, please!) I’d rather return at this point to the positives. On that score, the only fitting place to start is with the opener and title track. For well over a minute, the intro delights with a delicate and beautiful acoustic guitar melody, lulling us into a false sense of security because at the 1:23 minute mark, it all changes as the quiet beginning is brushed aside with no warning, by a crushing riff, energetic gurgling bass, and pinpoint drumming. In fact, this opening song demonstrates all of the positive facets of Dieth – the excellent, professional abilities of the musicians, the melodic sensibilities that do come through now and again, and the brute force strength of the music. It’s a great start, even if the transition from the intro to the main body of the track could have been handled a little more deftly.
The gratifying thing for yours truly, is the decision of Dieth to reintroduce the melody heard at the beginning of the album into a composition of its own as an outro piece. Drums and bass are introduced, and it’s a more rounded track because of it. But that gloriously addictive melody is wonderful, and I can’t get enough of it.
Another positive is the song in the middle of the record that sticks out like a sore thumb, namely ‘Walk With Me Forever’. It’s a quieter, less heavy track that has a touch of the mainstream rock ballad about it, but the key is that it is a good, solid song, with memorable melodies, strong chorus, and an unexpectedly poignant tinge to it. The biggest raise of the eyebrow is reserved for the lead vocals, handled by none other than Mr Ellefson himself. He has a good voice, and he puts in a really strong performance here, taking me willingly along for the more whimsical, introspective ride.
But, if it’s heavy material that brought you to the Dieth party, then you should focus your attention on tracks like the churning, roiling death metal assault of ‘Wicked Disdain’, a song that seeks to pummel the listener into submission via mix of slower riffs, gurgling bass, and brief blasts of pace to mix things up. Then there’s ‘Mark Of Cain’ that stands out a little more than a few of the other tracks with an unashamed blast of groovy death metal, with the vaguest of thrash hints along the way.
In terms of the nagatives, the place to start is ‘Don’t Get Mad…Get Even’. It goes without saying that we probably all know the meaning behind this song but a strong riff or two aside, I find the thrash heavy affair a little cheesy and clunky lyrically. The gang vocals are not the best and with the title of the song chanted over and over again, I begin to cringe. Actually, I cringed a little the first time I heard the song, and the cringing has just got worse over time.
I’m torn with ‘Heavy Is The Crown’ too. On the one hand, the song has a cool hypnotic groove at its heart that’s hard not to take to. But I have a really hard job of warming to the clean vocals and overall vibe that sounds very nu/alt metal, very late 90s, early noughties. There will be loads of listeners that lap it up, but I struggle with it a little.
Overall, I think that ‘To Hell And Back’ is a positive debut outing for this ‘supergroup’ trio under the Dieth moniker. But I still have my reservations. I do wonder how much I will choose to listen to it once I don’t have the compulsion to do so for review purposes. There are a couple of tracks that I’d happily add to a playlist and listen to more frequently, but as an album? I can’t shake the feeling that it’s just a little lacking overall in that unquantifiable ‘wow’ factor for me. You may disagree, though, so check it out before dismissing it.
The Score of Much Metal: 70%