Musical maelstrom


“There’s No 666 in Outer Space”


Ipecac Recordings

This is not your older brother’s Hella.

Once a duo that created some of the most embrangled instrumentals out there, this Sacramento-based entity is now a quintet.

The core of drummer Zach Hill and guitarist Spencer Seim is still there. Added to the fold are second guitarist (and Zach’s cousin) Josh Hill, bassist/keyboardist Carson McWhirter and singer Aaron Ross. The fact that Ross was a butcher before joining the band doesn’t seem unusual at all when Hella is the subject.

Seim and Zach Hill have always maintained they wanted Hella to be a full band. Followers who’ve come only to know the two of them may not be quick to agree. Judging by the fleshed-out group’s first effort together, “There’s No 666 in Outer Space,” they needn’t worry.

From the opening number “World Series,” all the elements loved and adored by the most ardent music fans are there: a maelstrom of discordant, octopus drumming and corkscrew progressions. It’s just that now there are even more components to make this one hell of a controlled cacophony. The original Hella always had one progressive pummel. That hasn’t changed. There’s just more to it now, and it never lets up for an hour.

Only on the surround-sound headphone trip “2012 and Countless” is there enough of a pause to catch one’s breath. Otherwise, it’s no-holds barred, from the acid-jazz pileups of “Let Your Heavies Out” to the daft, cartoonish “Hand That Rocks the Cradle” and digitized dissection of “Sound Track to Insecurity.”

Ross has a nasally whine that sounds eerily similar to Les Claypool, but again, it fits the style. “There’s No 666 in Outer Space” may not be as unusual as when Hella was just a pair, but the new incarnation is thrilling to listen to. And if it means more Hella, that’s something worth celebrating, no matter what form it takes.


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