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CD REVIEW: sam Hell - sam Hell
By Francesco Emmanuel - 06/18/2007 - 10:30 AM EDT

Artist: Band: sam Hell
Album: sam Hell
Label: Universal
Genre: Rock
Production/Musicianship Grade: 8/10
Commercial Value: 8/10
Overall Talent Level: 7/10
CD Review: So what would you say to a band that combines old fashioned rock ‘n roll, bluegrass, country and funk? You’d probably say ‘what the hell?’, and you’re probably right. ‘Sam Hell’ is the debut full length album from the band sam Hell.

Straight up rock ‘n roll, gritty served with a vocalist who stands out from the average crowd (no screaming, no wining, just solid, confident, mid-range melodies mixed with a nice huskiness at times). The music and voice of sam Hell does a righteous job of selling this band to audiences and industry critics alike.

The music is the collective effort of three individuals – Jordan Holman on vocals & guitars, Trevor Irvine handles bass & backup vocals and Matt Layton is the man on drums and backup vocals. It is a concept, a character called sam Hell, and the songs on this album are how Mr. Hell sees life this year.

Some lyrics are a bit odd at times, but if taken as a concept album of sorts, it does a suitable job of fitting the mood of the music.

‘A Devil with my name on it’ beats steady in 4/4 time, chord changes ascending A-B-C-D throughout the verse. ‘Track # 4’ has a nicely arranged transition from verse to chorus, and ends quite unexpectedly.

‘Smile’ is a duet, a love song- it is short and mellow and has great potential to be part of a movie soundtrack (take note Mr. Hell). The bridge in ‘War’ caught me off guard, in between a rocking verse-chorus format comes this solitude and restful peace in the bridge, almost like an eye in the hurricane, before the chorus leads back to the exit of the storm (song in this case).

‘One Last Chance’ has a somber piano intro, which then leads into an all-out guitar piece similar to something the Who and Queen would do – the entire song was a rock opera.

‘In the future’ closes off the record, a more mellow rock number, big harmonies in the chorus; I particularly liked the use of acoustic guitars, with the occasional slide now and again.

The band hails from Alberta, and after packing out their farewell show at the Powerplant in Edmonton; decided to move to Toronto to take their act on the road. Since arriving in T.O, the boys have been playing every chance they get.

The album was recorded in late 2006 between Montreal, Toronto and Edmonton. Mastering was done in New York City.

Love, life, death and God are the main themes that come up in songs, influenced by the idea that there is more to life than accepting the status quo. Hope is the only chance sam Hell has for survival. The band states that sam Hell exists to represent an idea and a character that can be anyone.

Currently all three members live and work together and sleep on the floor in a single room in downtown Toronto, where they moved one year ago. Now that’s guts!

The band will be touring extensively in Europe, Canada and North America in support of their debut release throughout 2007. Check your local listings for a show in your area, and yes, welcome to hell! (bad pun, I know)




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