ThereÕs No 666 in Outer Space (Ipecac Records)

If you hadn't heard Hella's output during its original incarnation as an impossibly hectic spazzcore duo, you could characterize the group's latest effort as some of the most batshit-crazy rock to lurch its way out of a speaker. While one can't question the freakout factor of the tunes on There's No 666 in Outer Space — the Sacramento band's debut for Mike Patton's Ipecac Records and first since transforming into a quintet — the album actually ventures closer to typical song structures than Hella's past material. With second guitarist Josh Hill and bassist Carson McWhirter filling out original drummer Zach Hill's convulsing rhythmic explosions and founding member Spencer Seim's angular, ADD riffology, Hella manages to tread a fine line between creating space for the new players and descending into utter chaos. A far bigger change comes in the addition of singer Adam Ross, whose keening, adenoidal voice at various times recalls Mars Volta frontman Cedric Bixler-Zavala (on the corkscrewing prog mayhem of "The Ungrateful Dead"), XTC's Andy Partridge sped up to 45 rpms (during the pulsating clatter of "Hand That Rocks the Cradle"), and Rush mainstay Geddy Lee. The quasi-mystical lyrics Ross howls are light-years away from the standard verse-verse-chorus-verse template, yet they still give the songs a shape and focus frequently absent from the band's earlier hyperkinetic abstractions. Diehards may well hate this new direction, but the compelling racket of There's No 666 in Outer Space will likely expand the cult of Hella still further. Dave Pehling


Hella performs as part of Noise Pop on Wednesday, Feb. 28, at Bottom of the Hill at 8 p.m. Admission is $12; call 626-4455 or visit www.bottomofthehill.com for more info.
Bottom of the Hill

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