EXTENDED HELL has been with us a few years now—their two 7″s and their live gigs have caused a stir in the realm of the underground. The inspiration comes from bands like INFERNÖH, HERATYS, and of course, the antecedents like ANTI-CIMEX and TOTALITÄR, I also feel like some of the riffs and structure brings to mind Another Religion and One Struggle-era VARUKERS. Heavy riffs and guitar tone give this band an underlying drive that is relentless: a ceaseless pounding like a piledriver repeatedly hammering into the depths. Layered on top of that drive is an overlay of smouldering guitar pyrotechnics that are restrained enough not to be gratuitous, but hot enough to give the hardcore drive some rock sizzle. Lyrically and visually, EXTENDED HELL paints a picture of a bleak world. While a lot of bands follow the D-beat template and use war tropes as stand-ins for a message, it’s clear that more thought went into these lyrics and the artwork. Power and profit untrammeled have resulted in the complete dehumanization of the many for the benefit of the few. Interestingly, songs like “Operational Exhaustion” and “Disintegration” deal with dehumanization of the soldier and oppressor, while “Dissident” and “Mortal Wound” are written from the point of view of the victim of oppression. This brings to mind Camus’ Neither Victims nor Executioners. I have the pleasure of knowing cover artist Joe B, as he’s originally from Minneapolis. He’s done all their artwork, and this one continues the theme of the other pieces. A vision of a technological terror state controlling the city, where humanity is reduced to a ghost-like existence. The bleak, hollow vision of alienation is a stark contrast to the commercialized consumer culture vision of life in New York City. It brings to mind some of the writings of Mike Davis and Naomi Klein, who foresaw a future where the working class lives a segregated and surveilled existence while the elite lives it up in a “Green Zone,” with all the luxuries and amenities. Personally, while I appreciate the cohesive aesthetic of the bleak reality, I wish that EXTENDED HELL would offer us a ray of hope, because the music itself is quite liberating and uplifting. Just as a Goya or Kollwitz painting of an atrocity can still be a beautiful piece of artwork, this picture of gloom and horror also has the power to enlighten us and set us free. The music itself is quite empowering, even if its subject matter is man’s inhumanity to man.