Root - Hell Symphony
I Hate Records
Thrash Metal
15 songs (58:52)
Release year: 2008
Root, I Hate Records
Reviewed by Goat

Going back to 1991, Root’s second album seems to rely mostly on Thrash Metal, the only concession to the Black Metal that made them their name being the vocals. Opening track Belzebub is more or less an instrumental, speedy Thrash riffs and beats tearing a path of pure headbanging glory that rips through your neck muscles each and every time it’s played, even with the acoustic finale. Unlike my first and so far, best listen from the Czechs, 1999/2008’s The Book, Hell Symphony has a very limited amount of vocals, and when they do pop up, they tend toward the Blackened snarls and grunts that you’d expect, rather than the fantastic Roy Orbison impression that vocalist Big Boss later proves himself capable of. As an earlier release, you can’t expect the same level of sophistication from Hell Symphony, but it’s still a disappointment at first to find that it’s all Thrash and snarls rather than the epic Heavy Metal of The Book.

Once you’re over said disappointment, Hell Symphony reveals itself to be pretty darn good. Quite why this was chosen as a reissue by I Hate rather than any of Root’s other albums, I haven’t the foggiest, but a few listens seem to suggest that the reThrashialisation of recent times has much to do with it. Each track on the album is named after a demon, and almost every track on the album Thrashes out in a pretty convincing style. By the time Abaddon rolls round, and some horns and epicness finally seem to wake up, the band are somewhere between old Celtic Frost and Slayer, Big Boss’ gravel-throated vocals resigned to the background as the others take great pleasure in destroying all.

And really, that sums Hell Symphony up pretty well. Assuming this band is as new to you as it is to me, the first couple of listens will be met with the odd nod-alongs and the occasional ‘hey, neat riff’ comment. Once you’re a bit used to the album, however, and have taken the time to realise that this was first released all the way back in 1991 – yes, Arise year – it becomes harder to take Hell Symphony at face value, especially with moments of weirdness like the guitarless Satan. In Thrash terms, this is a classic piece of work, moments like the sampled waves and Doominess on Leviathan far ahead of their time. It is a bit much to call this Black Metal, even by old standards, and yet you can hear the roots of their later sound with moments like the chants in Astaroth. Plus, of course, a reissue of a great Thrash album that was originally pretty much ignored is far superior to some bunch of jonny-come-latelys trying to convince the world that their stolen Exodus riff is better than their peers. Acoustic outro The Prayers alone has more originality than all of Earache’s recent output together.

A few bonus live tracks later, and this reissue is all over. Thankfully, it’s easy to listen to on repeat, and although it’s short of genius, it is still a damn good album. Thrashers will probably get even more out of it. At the worst, it shows Root’s diversity and sheer range of abilities off well, and there’s very little wrong with kickass Thrash Metal, especially when it was first released back in 1991. This reissue shows the band off well, and that’s undoubtedly the idea. More, more!

Killing Songs :
Belzebub, Belial, Lucifer, Abaddon, Satan, Leviathan, Astaroth, Loki, The Prayers
Goat quoted 83 / 100
Other albums by Root that we have reviewed:
Root - Heritage Of Satan reviewed by Goat and quoted 73 / 100
Root - The Temple In The Underworld reviewed by Goat and quoted 87 / 100
Root - Zjevení reviewed by Goat and quoted 86 / 100
Root - The Book reviewed by Goat and quoted 89 / 100
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