Swedish Crusty Death Metallers ‘Bombs of Hades’ return with their latest EP ‘Phantom Bell’ to add to their already extensive discography and it may only be sixteen minutes and four tracks, but it’s a well filled and well varied release that packs a punch and makes a superb listen.

Words: Jools Green

Opening with title track ‘Phantom Bell’, it is a powerful driving up tempo piece dominated by a pounding hypnotic drum rhythm, with groovy dirty riffs and matching groovy dirty leadwork.

Here and across the release you get acidic gravelly vocals that have a clear delivery of lyrical content.

‘Bridge of Sighs’ drops the pace down a little but the groove and crust remains, with a catchy dirty rolling repeat segment creating the backbone of this mesmerizingly addictive track, alongside haunting mid-point leadwork.

‘Kamikaze’ has an exotic quality similar to the opener and features as an equally exotic repeat. Falling away to a hauntingly sparse pace with an effective echo effect, which adds drama. Turning a little psychedelic as the pace ramps up again, a well varied and nicely convoluted track that twists and turns superbly.

The final offering is ‘Lungs’ a Townes Van Zandt cover. Lyrically Townes had a definite penchant for the bleak and melancholy:

“Well, won’t you lend your lungs to me?
Mine are collapsing
Plant my feet and bitterly breathe
Up the time that’s passing.
Breath I’ll take and breath I’ll give
Pray the day ain’t poison
Stand among the ones that live
In lonely indecision…..”

Photo of Bombs Of Hades album cover

However delivery wise this is so far removed from the original 1969 country music version. Wisely they haven’t tried to replicate it, as Steve Earle did in his ramped up 2009 version. Instead they have delivered a version in their own style.

It is still bleak, but it has such a dirty groovy, slightly retro and prog feel, with an almost sexy undercurrent and a touch of psychedelia to the leadwork, that I think Townes would really have appreciated if he were alive to hear it.

‘Phantom Bell’ is out on 17 April on Black Lodge and it is definitely worth the attention of anyone who likes a crusty groove.

A gem of an EP, which for me really hits the spot.


Sleeve Notes

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