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The Devil Isn't Red

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Album Review

No question about it: Hella's stuttering instrumental jabber is taxing on the ears. But it's worse for the brain, which can't use conventional means to suss out what's so appealing about Spencer Seim and Zach Hill's noisy sputter. "Top Twenty Notes"' building blocks sound familiar enough that they might actually be culled from some chart-topping nugget; however, delivered in fast forward, the song becomes a blur of not quite discernible information, like attempting to read and comprehend sped-up TV show credits. "You DJ Parents" returns Hella to their occasional electronic influence, or rather interference, since the track seems to be assembled from bytes out of jammed radio broadcasts and hijacked video-game consoles. The communication between Seim's finger-flying, trebly electric guitar and Hill's tom-spattering percussion style is still Hella's main method of destruction, and Devil Isn't Red kicks off with a string of cacophonous tunes to recall Hold Your Horse Is's best, most blurting moments. Sometimes, noise rock or avant-garde players focus on feedback and atonality to get their points across, skipping erratically on the line between effective and ridiculously jarring. Hella's work is unquestionably for the niche (which niche is unclear, but fans of, say, Puddle of Mudd need not apply), but Devil Isn't Red delivers its instrumental drubbings with dollops of disarming humor. Song title winner: "Welcome to the Jungle Baby, You're Gonna Live." The duo seems grounded not in making horrid noise to simply make it, or to please the beard-strokers, but instead cut and paste a unique yet weirdly accessible noise out of ostensibly classifiable rock & roll bits. You can hear the snipped beginnings and ends of classic rock riffs over the steel drum (?) clatter of "Brown Medal 2003"; difference is, their middles have been removed, replaced with random electronic chatter, and re-jiggered to become some other beginning's end. Fans of Trans Am or even Deerhoof should get plenty of yuks out of Devil Isn't Red and Hella's frenetic, seemingly multilimbed lather. It's a challenging mess, but one with uncommon rewards.

Customer Reviews

a must

this is a great band for those who are tired of the crap peddled on the radio. the tracks are short and sweet.


If you are ever tasked with taking a sledgehammer and smashing a room to pieces, do it with this playing.

This Does Not Deserve Obscurity

It really is a shame that so many people will never hear this, the greatest noise rock album of all time. One strange thought: Even though they're extremely fast, the songs are structured in such ways that I can imagine Captain Beefheart spouting his poetry over them....Anyways, Hella is the most talented duo I've ever heard.


Formed: February, 2001 in Sacramento, CA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Indie rockers Hella consist of guitarist Spencer Seim and drummer Zach Hill. The two first got together in the spring of 2001, developing a following around the Sacramento area that won them a record deal on 5 Rue Christine Records. Their debut LP, Hold Your Horse Is, appeared in 2002, and established Hella's chaotic approach to instrumental noise rock. The duo proved prolific, issuing the LP Total Bugs Bunny on Wild Bass on Narnack in 2003, The Devil Isn't Red for 5RC in 2004, and the double album...
Full Bio
The Devil Isn't Red, Hella
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Customer Ratings

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