On their newest release, Concentration Face / Homeboy, Hella are, well...Hella.
The masters of spaz return once again with a four-song EP full of new material. The catch is that there's only four songs, and they span over half an hour. Their penchant for long-winded, free-form freakouts are well documented, and this album is more of the same. The guitar and drum duo of Zach Hill and Spencer Seim have developed such a solid chemistry over the years that even music such as they're playing sounds perfectly fluid and cohesive, for the most part.
With only two members to the band, you have to do something wildly different on every single song to keep the sound from growing stale, and they're able to meet with some success in that vein. The eleven-minute "Gothspel for You Not Them" is all about creating mayhem. The guitar and drums fly by at an astronomical pace, and even during their slowed down periods, the amount of effects thrown into the mix is enough to keep the song engaging. To many, it's going to sound like just a whole lot of noise, but as with every Hella record you have to strain to dig into the layers and pull something out that you'll truly enjoy. "Gothspel" goes through so many different musical stages that it's hard to really take it all in as one song, and the same can be said of the closer, also eleven minutes long, "If I Were in Hella, I Would Eat Lick." This song is much less structured than the former, opting for a lot of odd guitar effects, but it still does have several stages of development that can make it both a task and a reward to really take in.
What's most alluring about the album however isn't the new songs, it's the 2nd disc, a DVD that compiles footage from various Hella sets on their most recent Japanese tour.
The DVD contains just about 3 hours worth of footage, which is not exactly a meager amount. The sets perfectly illustrate the live chaos that the band is the cause of, and the sheer energy that goes into playing each and every song. It's pretty remarkable just how interesting it can be to watch a band like Hella play together. There's only two men, the guitarist stays more or less stationary, and still, to see them play these songs live is impressive to behold. All the squealing of the guitars and abuse of the cymbals is captured by the camera, and the longer you watch, the less it seems possible that what they're playing is actually feasible.
The new EP offering from Hella isn't their best material by any means, but it's solid just the same. What really makes owning this worth it is the bonus DVD, which never stops impressing.