No, Banned from Hell isn’t just another Necrophagia. In fact, it’s kind of at the opposite end of that spectrum. The best way to describe a majority of Fall of Humanity would be to combine Cradle of Filth‘s gothic performances with the more hardcore oriented aspects of Slayer‘s sound, all with additional synth effects and random classical overtones from the keyboards for good measure. This approach is brought into a crisp sounding effort that doesn’t really accentuate the bass all that much. While this would be quite detrimental to anything of the death or thrash styles, it manages to work in an atmospheric sense comparable to early Darkthrone recordings. While nowhere near as thin sounding as A Blaze in the Northern Sky, it still manages to maintain a similar type of uneasiness and mysticism that very effort offers.
This is all established early on with the introductory track “MMXVI”, which oddly sounds like if Cradle of Filth in the Midian era were hired to score a Castlevania game. Sadly, this epic start doesn’t really pay off with “You Are My Blood”. While still catchy and playing up that analog aspect with a stronger echo on the vocals, it’s hard to shake the feeling of some out-of-place Winds of Plague influence beyond the slower authority fueled chugs in some spots. “I’m Not Abstract” maintains a consistent level of aggression and hardcore attitude that continues to assert itself like any Slayer album can. There are some mood setting aspects as well like additional vocal distortions, minimal synths, a solid keyboard solo, and even some Arch Enemy or even current Otep anger on par with “Zero” in the guitars.
Sadly, the band does deviate from that formula once in a while to introduce some Children of Bodom influence, or flat-out idol worship. “Amigdala” ends up a keyboard heavy performance, focusing on dynamic notes similar to what those legends brin to the table, even in some of the melodies used on that very instrument. At times things such as the galloping approach to the chilled keyboard solo about half-way through leaves you expecting Alexi Laiho’s vocals to just randomly kick in, even though the music works with the deeper, modulated growling style. The progressive effect on that instrument and slight shift in tone towards it about four-and-a-half minutes in is a nice distraction from the evident idol worship though. While a bit obvious, this is still far more unique a title compared to “Hate”, which basically dives head first into ripping off Children of Bodom down to the harsher vocals, a similar guitar structure, as well as a similar keyboard effect towards the gang chant filled conclusion.
And, really, that’s where Fall of Humanity begins to fall apart. Banned from Hell has a good idea going for them, but when they move away from the gothic horror soaked hardcore thrash assaults, the recording just becomes littered with a number of unoriginal nods to another band entirely. Meanwhile you get tracks like “Murder Validation” that, while not the most impressive, do usher in more of a unique voice for them. Yes, you can pick up on some of that Children of Bodom influence early on, but once the track picks up steam and starts to revel in the melodic death metal aspects, it’s impossible to not get wrapped up in the music of a six-piece starting to really find their own voice in the metal crowd.
Even though Banned from Hell have moved forward with their sound, dropping some of what composed Nightmare, there’s still a bit too much obvious influence being felt in the album right down to material that could very well find a cease and desist order at the group’s door steps. And, really, it’s unfortunate. The mixture of seventies and eighties horror atmospheres with hints of attitude that often would best suit a killer’s drive during the rampage mid-performance really makes the more unique material of this release stand out and far away from the many clones that have been seeping through the cracks of the metal world lately. Hopefully with time we’ll see this six-piece continue to explore which direction they want to go with and end up releasing something truly unnerving and aggressive as a number of cuts here prove can exist in their repertoire, and not the other way around of taking an already established concept and pretty much just mirroring it.