After nearly a decade of silence, French underground black metal formation HELL MILITIA has returned with a brand new album, ‘Hollow Void!’ The record is set for release on March 18 via Season of Mist Underground Activists.The tracklist, album art, and additional info can be found below. The band is now sharing the vicious first single, “Dust of Time,” which can be heard at THIS LOCATION.
The band comments: “Ten years have passed since the release of ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ and the more things change, the more things stay the same. ‘Dust of Time’ is the first song to be presented and it is a diary of all events that took place in the years that have passed since. It is a summary of bitter days, unshakable religious faith, urban filth, decay, death worship and an extremely bitter aftertaste.”
The cover artwork was created by Manuel Tinnemans // Comaworx and can be found below, together with the tracklist.
1. Lifeless Light (04:21)
2. Genesis Undone (04:22)
3. Dust of Time (05:47)
4. Within the Maze (04:09)
5. Hollow Void (04:57)
6. The Highest Fall (05:18)
7. Kingdoms Scorched (04:54)
8. Veneration (04:39)
9. Corruption Rejoice (05:50)
Ten years have eclipsed since ‘Jacob’s Ladder’, HELL MILITIA’s last studio album. Black metal has wandered into unforeseen territory and simultaneously drifted back to its roots in that span, remaining entrenched as a polarizing but no less interesting force. Its increased visibility has become the carrot dangled in front of many bands seeking wider acceptance within the underground. But has also made it easier to identify the bands who, fundamentally, will forever uphold black metal’s venerable tenets of darkness and Satanism. Therefore, it is with little surprise that HELL MILITIA have risen to the occasion with their fourth long-player, ‘Hollow Void’.
HELL MILITIA’s absence can be explained through a mix of personal and intra-band turmoil. Line-up changes included members literally disappearing to the other side of the world. Vocalist RSDX went missing in action after his life took a dark turn. Side musical projects and new life endeavours eventually put the band on hold. But when HELL MILITIA (who are completed by guitarists Arkdaemon and Saroth, bassist S. and drummer Dave Terror) regrouped in 2018 for a few selected live shows, it helped lay the foundation for what would become ‘Hollow Void’.
As is now customary, the pandemic delayed the album’s recording. The band was rehearsing in Paris when global lockdowns began. And since some members of HELL MILITIA reside outside of France in Sweden and the Netherlands, it meant they had to wait out the first wave of the pandemic to start tracking later in 2020. HELL MILITIA eventually entered Studio Saint-Loup outside of Paris in the fall of 2020 to lay down drums. Additional instruments, vocals, and mix and mastering were conducted with producer/engineer BST at BST Studios through the summer and fall of 2021. According to RSDX, the tumult of recent years, the pandemic and real life’s comings-and-goings were perfect ammunition for ‘Hollow Void’’s creation.
“The whole recording process took longer than expected, but as life took its turn straight up until the vocal recordings, the timing was exactly what it needed to be,” he says “A lot of these experiences were included in the lyrics, giving an honest reflection of what was going on. Bitter days, unshakable religious faith, death, contempt for life, urban filth and an even more bitter aftertaste turned into the toxic cocktail we called ‘Hollow Void’. Still, the pent-up energy increased to a point it just had to explode. We put all that energy back into the album. Now that everything is recorded, we await the date we can unleash this on this world. We will keep the energy at this level until it’s time we can perform it.”
The resultant effort is perhaps HELL MILITIA’s most strident effort to date. The band’s orthodox, unrelenting approach is a broadside to the black metal scene at large. Dense chord swaths, a whirling barrage of blast-beats and RSDX’s nihilistic, scathing vocals coalesce into an album that exploits the true nature of black metal: Savage, unforgiving and grim.
“We wanted to make a much more aggressive approach this time,” confirms the vocalist. “A true-to-form, punch-in-the-face comeback album. We wanted to combine the dissonant riffs of ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ with the raw and filthy sound of our first album, ‘Canonisation of the Foul Spirit’ and include some new elements. I think we succeeded in this, as it is much more raw, aggressive, yet catchy and 100 percent recognizable as HELL MILITIA.”
The events of the last few years provided no shortage of lyrical topics for RSDX. The nihilistic, unforgiving concepts heard on the band’s previous full-lengths remain very much intact, albeit coming across far more prescient in a world on a fast-track toward its own demise. However, RSDX notes that his lyrics on ‘Hollow Void’ are a combination of him looking inward as well as outward toward a world that fills him with disgust.
“The lyrics are the universe of HELL MILITIA, and at times, also a diary of all events of the last couple of years,” he says. “It is a summary of bitter days, fanatic unshakable religious faith, urban filth, decay, death worship and an extremely bitter aftertaste. It has traditional Satanism and a contempt for life at its very core.”
Indeed contempt, Satanism and a total disregard for human life have been the primary thread of HELL MILITIA’s musical output since they emerged on the scene in 2001 via the ‘SPK Kommando – We Hope You DIE’ split alongside fellow French black metal holdovers Antaeus, Eternal Majesty and Deviant. The band’s lauded and influential ‘Canonisation of the Foul Spirit’ would follow four years later, establishing HELL MILITIA as one of the leading purveyors of the 2000s French black metal wave. 2010’s ‘Last Station on the Road to Death’ and 2012’s ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ followed, bringing them even closer to black metal’s true, raw spirit. As evidenced by ‘Hollow Void’, the last ten years have done little to HELL MILITIA’s approach.
“We are still the old, bitter radical individuals whose masks are off,” closes RSDX. “What the scene does is of no concern or interest to us. We are in contact with bands and individuals we respect. The rest of the world can keep their watered down, non-ideological form of black metal. Black metal to us means the same as it did when the band was founded: A vessel of strong expression in music and ideology with unshakable faith at its very core. If a band doesn’t have that, it’s not black metal. I may approach life differently now that I’m in my 40s than when I was in my 20s, but the attitude and radical stand on what black metal should be has not changed.”
Genre: Black Metal
RSDX – Vocals
Arkdaemon – Guitars
Saroth – Guitars
S. – Bass
Dave Terror – Drums
Guest musicians: Meyhna’ch (ex-Mutiilation, ex-Hell Militia, former vocalist) Guest vocals on “Corruption Rejoice”
Recording studio: Drums recorded at Studio De Saint-Loup, all other instruments, mix, and mastering done at BST Studio
Producer / sound engineer: BST Studio
Mixing studio and engineer: BST Studio
Mastering studio / engineer: BST Studio
Biography: David E. Gehlke
Cover art: Manuel Tinnemans // Comaworx
Available formats: CD digipack, vinyl black and coloured