West of Hell is a band that delivers a unique form of heavy metal with a wide range of influences from power, death and prog metal to thrash, groove and classic metal. Band members first connected in the mid-2000s in West Auckland, New Zealand. Andrew Hulme (drums), Ivan Vrdoljak (guitars), and Sean Parkinson (guitars) started practicing together and soon found a bassist in Jordan Kemp. As they honed their skills, they worked tirelessly on the sound they were striving for, and played several shows without a vocalist in their early days. After a number of years developing their songs and searching for the right vocalist, the decision was made to relocate as a group to a larger market.
In 2009, they moved to Vancouver, BC, Canada. Still in search of a vocalist, they continued to book gigs and perform as an instrumental act. This paid off later that same year, when the buzz around the local Vancouver scene led them to Chris ‘The Heathen’ Valagao, frontman of Zimmers Hole. With Valagao on board (vocals) and a complete set of songs ready to record, West of Hell enlisted Juno Award-winning engineer Rob Shallcross (Strapping Young Lad, GWAR, Zimmers Hole, Gene Hoglan, Fear Factory) to help them produce their debut album. Recorded at The Factory Studios in Vancouver, Spiral Empire was released in 2012 via Reversed Records, followed by a tour in New Zealand and extensive touring in Canada. Valagao, using his experience as a cinematographer and SPFX artist, produced and directed two music videos for the tracks “Faceless the Droids” and “Water of Sorcery.”
Although the members had hoped to progress as a band and remain based in Canada, unfortunately, it wasn’t viable for some. Ivan left the band in early 2011 and Andrew left in 2014, both returning to NZ. The band continued on through the next few years with various guitarists and drummers occupying the vacancies left by Vrdoljak and Hulme. Kris Schulz, a key figure in introducing the band to Valagao, was approached to join the band in 2014. His guitar playing and personality brought an exciting new twist to the band’s sound. With drummer Paul Drummond stepping in as a committed member, West of Hell has its strongest line-up to date. In conjunction with touring in support of sophomore album Blood of the Infidel, writing fresh new music for the band’s third album is well under way. The evolution of West of Hell’s sound continues!
West of Hell ''Spiral Empire'' Reviews:
Metal heads young and old are gonna want to check out Spiral Empire, the debut disc from Canadian metaless, West Of Hell. These guys skillfully combine huge amounts of old-school metal influences with a more modern day approach and the result is totally off the chain.
Andrew Hulme's drums also sound fantastic ― the cymbals are bright and the rest of the kit is dynamic and muscular. West of Hell are talented musicians and this strength is an integral part of their songwriting, demonstrating the skills they learned while playing for years as an instrumental group
There are some really great moments on this that make you go “No fucking way!” with very little dips in the overall standing of the record. I think this record might even contend for a potential spot in my top 20 for 2012. We’ll just have to wait and see what everyone else has to say.
Spiral Empire is a damn fun throwback to a better time in metal and West of Hell is a damn fun band. Their energy is infectious, their riffs are daring and “The Heathen” is every bit the old school warlock he needs to be to lead this fiery unit into the abyss and back again.
West of Hell say no to all the posers that have spreading filth and low quality offerings throughout the worldwide Metal scene. “Spiral Empire” is where the fist of Thrash meets the quality melodic features and the emotional truthfulness of Heavy Metal. This release truly warmed my heart; I banged my head with craze but also enjoyed a great lyrical line and was impressed by the eminence skills of the entire lineup. West of Hell is probably the answer to south of heaven, however whether it is or not, I will be waiting for the next outcome.
West of Hell ''Blood of the Infidel'' Reviews:
"Blood Of The Infidels enhances every aspect of their previous effort, upping the technical wizardry; improving the songwriting; trimming the fat and generally crafting one of the best albums of 2019. I’m not even kidding, this record keeps me coming back for more and more – and providing something new with every listen." - 9.5/10
"Those melodies, those vocals (honestly, the guy is from Zimmers Hole who are one of my favorites based both on the music and his excellent voice). The whole package is a wonder to behold and I’m only one-track in. Instant attention grabber!"
-Cult Metal Flix
"This band is just something else, I tell ya! The instrumentation is quite a beast. A hard, thrashing vibe engulfs this heavy metal riffamaggedon with both a technical and shred spirit. Thrash, traditional heavy metal, shred and a bit of technical metal all coexist and thrive. The rhythm section by itself is something to hear and the guitars, well, they will make you bang your head, of course. You have to hear this singer. You don’t hear singers like this every day! Strong powerful singing, and raging screams that sound good."