Sargent House

Tripper finds Hella returning to its core duo of Spencer Seim and Zach Hill — this should be a relief for many given that Hella’s previous album There’s No 666 in Outer Space (2007) was an embarrassingly overblown mess of Mars Volta-level proportions. Nope forget all the vocals and extra members; this is a return to the drum and guitar instrumentals that established Hill and Seim as math-rock stars 10 years ago.

Except there’s one problem: Tripper kinda sucks. Hella was never the most serious band but on Tripper the duo often succumbs to the sort of lame rock tropes that should only appeal to the sort of mouth-breathers who’d exclaim “Sick riffs brah!” at a high school guitar-shred pissing contest. Hill’s drumming remains breathless and impressive but Seim’s guitar engages in numerous metal-isms that sound tired at best and neanderthalic at worst like a bright kid dumbing himself down to hang with the jocks. It’s not all bad though: “Netgear” engages in a digitally processed drum abstraction for an intriguing few minutes of texture (the most genuinely trippy moment on the album) and “Osaka” shows Seim’s guitar dynamism. Regardless you’d be better off listening to your old Hella records where the ideas were fresh and the guitar tone wasn’t total garbage.

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