“The Garden of Hell”

By Dr. Abner Mality

The New Wave of British Heavy Metal was an absolutely amazing time as far as creativity went. I thought I was a pretty good authority on the subject, but bands from that era that I’ve never heard of are still popping up. Such a band is Robespierre, a NWOBHM outfit named after a French Revolutionary. They have emerged from the mists of obscurity after a 40 year vanishment and they bring us something that really sounds like a “missing link” from those rich and heady days.

Robespierre comes from the darker side of the British metal scene in those days. This is grim and murky sounding heavy metal that reminds me of Witchfynde, Pagan Altar and even a primitive version of Hell. Most of the songs have a gloomy edge without going into all-out doom. Most are based on simple and repetitive riffing that somehow manages to sink deep into your brain. Such a tune is the opening “Punish Oppressors”, which has a constant motif coupled with shouted gang vocals. The main vocalist is certainly not great in any technical sense, yet something about his nasal, slightly slurred tones fits this music like a glove. “Mare of Steel”, “Feel The Fire” and “Fear” all have that cool galloping NWOBHM sound from the dark side of the fence while “Dwelling In the Shadows” and “The Black Mirror” are in the slower Witchfynde and Angelwitch vein. “The Black Mirror” in particular is a very heavy tune.

A couple of songs are just too clunky to work, like “Dagon Rises” and “Men of Violence” with its almost comical gang chorus, but overall, this band manages to cast a kind of ancient, arcane spell that takes you back to an earlier age in metal. The album ends strongly with the more melodic and very Angelwitchy “I Am A Flower In the Garden of Hell”.

I was rather caught up with all of this and if you like any of the NWOBHM bands mentioned above, you can join Robespierre in their diabolical garden.