There are a handful of albums in each of our lives that changed the course of that life forever. Perfect storms of melody, tone and content that speaks to us like nothing else and becomes something we define ourselves by. For me one of those albums was Hero Of Our Time by the Satanic Surfers. I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this fact many a time but it never hurts to say it again – Satanic Surfers are a band that I hold incredibly dear to my heart and are one of the first on my lips when people ask about my all time favourite music. I write these intro paragraphs before listening to albums and it’s with great trepidation I once again, after 12 years away, get to put on a new Satanic Surfers album. Back From Hell is their brand new fresh-off-the-press album and my heart is hoping for an album of the year contender. Let's see.
Back From Hell is a masterpiece of skate punk beauty that takes everything I already loved about the band and amps it up to 11. The end.
Ok, so maybe I’ll give you a little more. Back From Hell is both incredibly raw and yet far better quality than everything that has come before. I’ve grown up with SS albums and can say for sure that this is the best they’ve ever sounded. Whilst not polished to a poppy sheen, everything is crisp and clear and the levels are complimentary. This is maybe the first album of theirs that doesn’t blow my eardrums when switching to another song on a playlist because the song is played way quieter than everything else. This is a good thing because Back From Hell absolutely has to be played LOUD!!
From opening track, The Usurper, this album is blisteringly fast and goddamn it shreds! There are screaming guitar solos aplenty in amongst lighting riffage and Rodrigo Alfaro is at his very best vocally. I gave Atlas Losing Grip my attention while he was with them but he really feels at home here and gives an incredible performance throughout.
All the Satanic Surfers tropes I’ve come to expect are here in abundance – the crazy riffs, the pace, the tongue in cheek politically aware humour, particularly in the cheeky Anthrax homage “Madhouse”. There’s also a lot in here that shows that Satanic Surfers have grown in the last 12 years. The vocal harmonies are truly excellent, Bad Religion quality this time around. There’s also a lot more nuance outside of the fastest songs that allows outside influences from all sorts of other musical genres to infuse what could essentially be a dictionary definition of skate punk into an album with charisma coming out of the seams.
As far as skate punk albums go, I may be hard pressed to find something I’ve wanted to listen to more in the last decade than this. I hold Satanic Surfers up on a pedestal as the very best to have done it. I’m happy to report that Back From Hell more than satisfies every expectation I had and more. It’s not just a rehash, it’s a band coming back stronger and better than ever before. Am I biased? Unashamedly, yes I am, but imagine how high my bar had been before listening so if I’m still glowing then that should be an incredible endorsement.
Stream and download Back From Hell here: https://satanicsurfers.bandcamp.com/album/back-from-hell
Like Satanic Surfers here: https://www.facebook.com/satanic.surfers.official/
This review was written by Dan Peters.