Album Review: Dieth – To Hell And Back

Album Review: Dieth - To Hell And Back
Reviewed by Dan Barnes

It was perhaps inevitable that the constantly revolving personnel of Megadeth would claim Dave Ellefson at some point, regardless of his tenure as Mr Mustaine’s most trusted lieutenant from the band’s inception through to their parting of ways in 2021. Though it must be stated the relationship between Daves was not always harmonious, the creative output of the pairing was there for all to see.

Dave E made a surprise comeback with last year’s unexpected single In the Hall of the Hanging Serpents, a collaboration with Entombed AD guitarist, Guilherme Miranda and former Night of the World, Driller and Decapitated sticksman, Michal Lysejko, under the name Dieth.

Now the trio return with a full-bloodied full-length under their belts, combining the strengths of all members into 10 tracks of expected rambunctiousness with a few surprises along the way.

Opening with its title-track, To Hell and Back begins calmly enough with an acoustic guitar; but, you know this isn’t going to last and the loose, jangling strings are torn asunder as Guilherme makes his entrance. Gruff vocals and a groovy swing in the chorus dominate this track; Michal’s drums sounding dirty while Dave goes about his bass work unobtrusively.

Dieth’s sound is predominantly Death Thrash and has an unmistakable nineties, Max-era Sepultura vibe running through In the Hall of the Hanging Serpents, Dead Inside and Don’t Get Mad… Get Even! (don’t panic, it’s not a Mötley Crüe cover). Chunky, choppy guitar riffs, distinctive grooves and fist-pumping solos are the hallmark of these anthemic moments from the album.

Album Review: Dieth - To Hell And Back

Things get darker for The Mark of Cain, which incorporates ethereal moments and unexpected instrumentation, whereas Wicked Distain’s vocal echo fits in to the horror movie opening moments and the lumbering deathy plod.

All would be fine and dandy if To Hell and Back continued in this vein and we’d have a perfectly serviceable debut from the trio. But there’s enough milage beneath the paws of these road-dogs to know when and how to push on a little further. Free Us All opens with an odd bass shuffle before dropping into crunching guitar, but then takes an unexpected turn and introduces its alter-ego as a Seventies-inspired piece of psychedelia, featuring screaming guitars and more endings than The Return of the King.

Following that up is Heavy is The Crown, which grooves in its own doomy stoner way, complete with classic rock bluesy solo and some raw chunky guitar. Closing out the album is the short instrumental piece Severance, a joyous couple of minutes that plays into Dieth’s more eccentric side.

That just leaves Walk with Me Forever, the obligatory ballad, but notable as it is the first time Mr Ellefson has recorded a lead vocal. It’s not quite in the sphere of a Stairway to Heaven, but Dave makes the most of his limited range and the song hits all the beats for this kind of track; and, to be fair, there are far, far worse lead singers out on the road at this very moment, charging people to watch them butcher classic songs.

To Hell and Back is a better album than either I expected or has any real right to be. But when the personnel behind the project are as seasoned as Dieth, then it’s obvious the sheer class and creativity will show through from the outset.

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