H3llb3nt was a collaborative from the United States that formed in 1995. The project featured a number of artists including Eric Powell (16Volt), Jared Louche (Chemlab), Charles Levi (My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult), Bryan Black (Haloblack), Lee Fraser (Sheep on Drugs), Martin Atkins (Pigface), and Raymond Watts (Pig, KMFDM).
Minneapolis native Bryan Black long ago punched in his time card at the indie industrial mill. He hasn't punched out yet, placing him in league with a hard core of musicians who've somehow - probably through sheer will and talent -- managed to survive the drought that hit the US scene in the late '90s (hello rap rock!). And given the names of Black's two musical projects - h3llb3nt and haloblack - Black seems to like it that way; let it come down rough and tumble. The music will meet the mood.


Grabbing attention in 1995 with the release of decay, his first album under the moniker haloblack, Black proceeded to unleash an unremitting dark electronic noise storm equally fueled by crunching guitars, brutalized synths and seductive beats. And while his lyrics tend toward the well-mined territory of solipsistic nihilism, his husky, tortured, yet totally unpretentious voice manages to anchor his compositions well on the fair side of believability. It was on tour to support decay Black connected with 16volt's front man Eric Powell, with whom, he quickly discovered, he shared a desire to explore some non-guitar driven avenues within their genre. They hooked up with Chemlab vocalist Jared Louche, brought in legendary bassist Charles "Lovely" Levi (part of the Pigface stable a former member of the Thrill Kill Kult) and Servo from 16volt / KMFDM, and formed h3llb3nt, a more "devilishly playful" group than anything its separate members belonged to. The band released 0.01 in 1996 on Fifth Column Records to widespread acclaim, overcoming the often limiting "supergroup" label that usually weighs down aggregates of established musicians, winning new fans and carving out a niche for themselves that has yet to erode. The group's 1998 album, Helium, released on the now defunct Re-Constriction label, built upon the successes of its predecessor, introducing the band to an even wider audience.

After a three year hiatus that saw h3llb3nt's members pursue various non-musical side projects, the group reconvened this year, committed to treat the band as something more full time, and less periphery. The fruit of their labor? Hardcore Vanilla, an irresistible blend of synth-front industrial pop and smart-assed SM poetry. Choler caught up with Black, now living and working in London, to quiz him on his h3llish past and present.

[Releted links]