Since their formation in 2010, HELLISH have become a prolific force on the blackened thrash scene. With a discography to date totaling two albums, three EPs, four demos, a couple compilations, a split, and a single, this Chilean quartet have been nothing but dedicated to their evil cause over the past decade-plus. During that cursed year of 2020, longtime vocalist/bassist Necromancer departed the band, but in came Christopher Aravena as his replacement, and HELLISH sounded more invigorated than ever on last year’s The Vermis Mysteriis EP.
With that bolstered lineup in place, HELLISH return to the full-length front with The Dance of the Four Elemental Serpents. The title alone should speak toward the band’s elevation above the cliché aspects of idiomatic blackthrash; while their grounding in the Teutonic “Big Four” of Sodom, Kreator, and Destruction has never been in question, HELLISH have always made subtle-yet-concerted strides to separate themselves from mere worship, and The Dance of the Four Elemental Serpents proves this beyond a shadow of a doubt. For one, the guitars of Francisco Sanhueza and Javier Salgado wind and wend with wild abandon, keeping the riff trajectory aggressive yet creative, twisting and turning with a diabolism that reaches a fever pitch with well-timed (and quite literally explosive) solos. For another, Aravena’s bass goes in busier directions than just following the guitarists’ riffing; hulking and upfront, his chops match those of the six-stringers, and guitarist-turned-drummer Christian León’s tasteful touches on the kit flesh out that momentum with fury and finesse. Altogether, HELLISH give a masterclass in blackened thrash songwriting that’s far more inventive and interesting than “blackthrash,” and The Dance of the Four Elemental Serpents becomes a surprisingly epic spin during its deceptive eight-song/33-minute runtime. Dizzying and diabolical, HELLISH hereby raise the bar considerably with The Dance of the Four Elemental Serpents.