A little background is in order here. Satan’s Host was started in 1986 by Jag Panzer’s singer, Harry Conklin (under the stage name Leviathan Thisiren), when he decided to do something a little more Satan-positive. Less than two years later, after only one album (Metal from Hell) and an EP (Midnight Wind), he’d had enough, and left to join Titan Force (the band, I mean, not the team of misfits who pilot the Titan Maximum super-robot, which would have been much cooler). Everyone figured that Satan’s Host was over. I mean it was his band and all. Well, him and guitarist Patrick Evil, who reformed SH in 1999 as a Black/Death Metal band with L.C.F. Elixir on vocals. Why did Patrick use the same name for what was stylistically a completely different band? No idea. And now, after more than a decade with five full-length albums, an EP and a DVD of Black/Death Metal, Elixir is out and Conklin is back in. And, yes, Satan’s Host has returned to being Power Metal, or perhaps more accurately, traditional Heavy Metal with really aggressive drumming. What will they do when performing live now? Just not play any of the Elixir-era songs, which comprise the vast majority of the band’s catalog? Or is Conklin going to Power Metalify them? I feel pretty safe in thinking that he’s not going to try to sound like L.C.F. Elixir. All that aside, taken completely by itself, By the Hands of the Devil is solid Heavy/Power Metal, with a tremendous production and the aforementioned aggressive drumming helping Patrick Evil’s riffs considerably. Conklin even does some interesting vocal tricks occasionally, like the excellent multi-tracking near the middle of “Before the Flame.” The bonus track (unknown which versions/formats have it) is a kind of re-imagining of The Beatles “Norwegian Wood” that’s so different from the original that I almost started a flame war on metal-archives.com for daring to refer to it as a cover song.
I had a difficult time figuring out this album, but if you can tolerate Conklin’s vocals, and don’t mind the stylistic flip-flopping, it’s worth the confusion.
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