Private Hell: Virginia Band Melds Hardcore Punk & ‘80s Metal on Powerful New EP

Photo: Keith Baillargeon

When Private Hell formed back in 2021, the band's mission was to create metal-punk-influenced music in the vein of the Burning Spirits wave of Japan. While they mined inspiration from groups like Bastard and Death Side early on, the Richmond, Virginia-based band began melding in everything from thrash metal to '90s Clevo to sludge into their songwriting style.

"With this band, I really wanted to have a band that blends a wide variety of influences and couldn’t be as easily pigeonholed as a lot of punk and hardcore can often be," guitarist/vocalist Mikey Kent tells me. "I’d say our core influences are bands like Integrity, Tragedy, Celtic Frost, '80s COC, Poison Idea, Neurosis, Sepultura, Death Side, Killing Joke, etc.

"Rather than cutting and pasting different genre sections together in songs, we really try to distill what it is about these bands that makes them so incredibly punishing and powerful. With our new EP, we leaned a bit harder into our metal influences, with the primitive riffs of Celtic Frost, the esoteric darkness of Neurosis and Integrity, and the memorable hooks of early Metallica being major touchstones when writing it."

Private Hell—which features former and current members of such groups as Fried Egg, Ghouli, and Wild Rose—will be releasing that aforementioned EP this week (September 29th), and it's called Days of Wrath:

Mikey offers some context about the new collection: "We recorded the EP with Jordan Greenough in Norfolk, Virginia at Not for the Weak Records. We have worked with Greenough in the past, and along with being a good friend, he does an incredible job of capturing a band at their most raw and confrontational, while also still giving a huge sound.

"His past work with his own bands like Reckoning Force and Lethal Means to me is the epitome of what a great hardcore punk album should sound like, and his live recording method were integral to this EP.  

"The EP was recorded this past spring, and is a reflection on recurring cycles of loss, death, hope, renewal, and loss once more. I wrote the majority of the lyrics during difficult periods of grieving and grieving, as well as a period of deep self reflection from my newfound sobriety from alcohol, and this EP is a direct reflection of that."

Photo: Chris Boarts Larson

From the EP's tracking sessions, to the label issuing Days of Wrath, it's clear Private Hell rides hard for Virginia. "We really enjoyed working with Persistent Vision Records, a new label based out of Richmond that has thus far done some awesome reissues for local legends Pg.99, as well as new releases by great newer bands like Habak and Lagrimas. 

"As is the case with so many other places right now, Richmond is having a real boom right now, with shows consistently having great turnouts and a ton of energy. I moved here in 2015, and I really can’t emphasize enough how different things are between now and as recently as 2019.

"Richmond has consistently had a great hardcore since the '80s, but it's really a special time right now. There are countless great bands right now, but a few of my personal favorites from the last few years are Public Acid, Killing Pace, Blazing Tomb, Invertebrates, Cicada, Destruct, Mutually Assured Destruction, ASM, Fried Reality, and a bunch more that I’m sure I’m forgetting."

Days of Wrath will be available on all streaming outlets and cassette on September 29th via Persistent Vision (order here).


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