New Hell captured me immediately on my first listen. Within the first minute of the opening track “Circles of Hell”, I could tell I was going to love every second of this album, and to be completely honest, I did. It is an album that has a lot to say, and bares its emotional weight in every somber note and depressing line of lyrics. It is unapologetically sad in a personal way, seemingly as a catharsis for Greet Death. They take a varied approach to their songwriting, incorporating elements of shoegaze, indie rock, psyechedelic rock, slowcore, grunge, doom, and even Americana.
Even while merging so many influences and styles together, one thing remains consistent with New Hell and that is the aforementioned depression that fuels this album. The instruments are hauntingly slow and somber, meandering through layers of distortion in minor keys. The notes are long and slow to fade out, accompanied by the airy drawl of Logan Gaval. With vocals that are barely over a whisper at times to high-ringing notes, there is always that persistent ache in his tone that fuels the anguish of the album.
Greet Death groove with a primarily shoegaze and indie rock driven sound, but the heavy distortion and riffing dances with grunge throughout New Hell. The slow BPM and drawl of the album give it a breath of slowcore as well. Then there are moments like the slide guitar in “You’re Gonna Hate What You’ve Done” and all of “Let It Die” that evoke a western singer-songwriter/Americana style. The opening riff of “Circles of Hell” is saturated in psychedelic rock. and then there is the biggest shocker on the album, and that is the fact that “Strain” is practically a doom metal track. The guitar tone is dense and there’s practically a wall of fuzz between you and the band for nearly five minutes.
The part of New Hell that I love the most, and the part that is most reflective of its grim nature are the lyrics. They touch on subjects such as losing/pushing away friends and loved ones, losing and missing significant others, staying up all night and sleeping through the afternoon, and wasting your life away getting high and giving up on your dreams. Not a single one of these subjects is easy to talk about, let alone write an entire album to accompany your suffering. Greet Death do so in an honest and believable way, with raw lyricism that doesn’t delve much into wordplay to convey messages.
‘I had a dream but I let it die
I sit around and I wait to get high
I’ll embrace the consequences
Of the things I do when I
Let it burn, let it die‘
An excerpt of the song “Let It Die” that is just one small sliver of the introspective lyrics on New Hell. It’s an eerie acoustic joint, slightly shorter than most of the other tracks, but hits just as hard as anything else on the album. ‘Every single day I fantasize/Different ways my body can die/I would kill myself completely out of spite/ Wouldn’t be around to watch my friends cry‘. “Crush” is probably the most haunting song on New Hell lyrically, touching directly on the subject of contemplating suicide.
It goes into details about finding love in themselves while their lover found whatever in somebody else. ‘If I were a stranger on the street/Would you even look to recognize me?/And even if you did would you have a clue/That every single night I dream about you?‘ That last light repeats itself out for a minute, and with each recital of it, the weight seems to get heavier until you can barely stand it. It’s heart-wrenching, but if you can relate to the themes found in this album at all, it’s also incredibly comforting. It’s the second remark about dreaming about love lost, with the first line coming in “You’re Gonna Hate What You’ve Done”. ‘Well lately I’ve been treating with the devil in blue/Well maybe if he cuts me loose I’ll get my days in hell back too/Maybe I’ll keep dreaming if I’m dreaming of you‘.
I could keep providing powerful lyrics from New Hell all day, but frankly I’d just be posting the entire album at that point. There are very few lines that aren’t emotionally evocative, channeling personal agony into self-expression. Genres don’t matter when you’re letting yourself speak through song instead of just the thoughts in your head. Greet Death have provided a hell of an anthem to get through a hard time, and with the winter looming ever closer here in the United States, it’s a piece of music that will surely be a backbone to my winter playlist.
In a very short period of time, this album has grown to be something really special to me. I have a strong personal relation to a lot of the lyrics, and the conveyance of their struggle feels like one for myself as well. This past October was the worst month of my life, and truth be told there were days I really didn’t want to fight through it. Music like this serves as a reminder that you’re not alone, even when things are grim. If you can sit and listen to other people speak about getting through the things you’re fighting through, it’s like they carry a torch to follow through the murkiness of your own brain. So a big thanks to Greet Death for bolstering the soundtrack of a wounded heart and damaged mind and helping us all get through the struggle together.