HELLWELL – Beyond The Boundaries Of Sin

HELLWELL - Beyond The Boundaries Of Sin
  • 7.5/10
    HELLWELL - Beyond The Boundaries Of Sin - 7.5/10


High Roller Records
Release Date: August 7, 2012

User Review
0/10 (0 votes)

Mark “The Shark” Shelton, founder and leader of the legendary band Manilla Road has been making his brand of dark and Melodic Metal since the early 1980’s. Now he has presented his new side project, Hellwell. Beyond The Boundaries Of Sin is the band’s debut album. Hellwell is named after E.C. Hellwell, who is the keyboardist in the band. E.C. Hellwell is also an author whose own short story titled Acheronomicon was the main influence for the concept of the album. Also, just like Manilla Road, there are only three main musicians that appear on this album; Shelton, Hellwell, and drummer Johnny “Thumper” Benson.

Shelton has described the music of Hellwell as “Manilla Road’s evil twin.” Although there are many similarities to the core sound of Manilla Road, the one significant difference is the heavy use of keyboards and synthesizers. The keyboard sounds offered on Beyond The Boundaries Of Sin provide a very early ‘70s Hard Rock sound reminiscent of Uriah Heep and Deep Purple. It certainly adds a large part to the sinister themes, which are intended for the sound of this album.

Manilla Road has always been a combination of Doom Metal and Melodic Hard Rock, and all of that chemistry has transcended into Hellwell. The opening keyboards in the first track “The Strange Case Of Dr. Henry Howard Holmes” sets the tone for a ride of gloomy and melancholy Metal. Shelton’s vocals on this track are about as low and growly as he’s ever been. The composition itself sounds like it could have come directly from a 1972 Uriah Heep album. There are similar themes throughout the entire album which give the listener a decisive early ‘70s Hard Rock feel.

The most notable track on the album is the 13-minute opus “End Of Days.” This song clearly has many early Black Sabbath and even Iron Butterfly influences with a distinctive Doom Metal feel. Again the low growl of Shelton’s vocals is predominant, along with an extremely heavy Iommi-like guitar riff. The composition takes many twists and turns and ends up being an extremely psychedelic piece of music.

One of the disappointing items of note with Beyond The Boundaries Of Sin is the very poor production value. Of course, being on par with the general production merit of most Manilla Road albums, it’s about the same. Shelton has never been known for flawless, tight production on any of his previous work. For this reason, you get the sense of all the early Hard Rock influences. The production on this album includes a great amount of guitar distortion, drowned out drums, and an overuse of reverb.

Despite the production shortcomings, the overall product is generally well done. Fans of Manilla Road will surely enjoy this one as an extension of the core Manilla Road sound. However, as a stand alone product, casual listeners will have a tough time grasping onto the intricacies that Shelton is attempting to convey. Either way, Hellwell is definitely not your run of the mill Metal band, and if you desire something a little bit different, this may be worth a listen.


  • Sean Meloy

    Sean Meloy was a reviewer, interviewer and DJ here at Metal Express Radio, based out of Iowa , USA. By day he is a straight laced, buttoned up, number crunching accountant; armed with his portable calculator. All other times he is a hard rocking Metal head! He spent many hours listening to records and 8-tracks with his father. Classic bands such as Deep Purple, Pink Floyd, Kansas, Led Zeppelin, and Eric Clapton just to name a few. His father bought him his first record, Kiss Alive II, at age 6. By the time he reached his teens he was discovering all the Classic Metal of the 1980’s; Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Twisted Sister, etc. He became a huge fan of the Thrash Metal of the time as well; Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax, Exodus, and Overkill. During the 1990’s he experimented with the Grunge and Hard Rock. However, by the time the millennium came he found himself going back to his roots and rebuilt the music collection he started in his teens.

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