Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Deathhammer - Onward To The Pits [2012]

Deathhammer, alongside their fellow bastard countrymen in Nekromantheon, are yet another great thrash act that are being handed to us by Norway. This is a country that is ubiquitous with black metal acts, lots of them very generic, and conversely to what many may think, it is a country that is producing some of the best thrash metal around nowadays. Deathhammer don’t exactly bring anything new to the table, but when your music is this good, you really don’t have to.

The album kicks off with a typical thrash metal riff that will remind listeners of early Kreator and Sodom; hence the very old-school sound that they pull off. Along with the gritty guitars strumming their way along rapidly, the drums play a blast beat in the background. This is something that many may deem distasteful, especially ones with an aversion towards blast beats in thrash metal. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love it, but either way, have no fear; there aren’t many throughout. The guitars are easily the highlight on the album, and there’s little to no new-school riffing to be seen, it being dominated by old-school thrash; lot’s of them, however, are not one-hundred percent thrash. Heaps of the riffs on this record are actually very black/speed/thrash metal influenced, an obvious and undeniable Bathory sound being inducted as they gallop along and pleasantly surprise the listener.  Songs like “Fullmoon Sorcery,” especially in the intro, will remind the listener of the good ol’ days when Bathory played relentless black/speed metal, parallel to, mainly, their self-titled album.

Dissimilar to what Nekromantheon have done with their latest effort, Deathhammer are not as evil-sounding as them. They have a very old-school vibe to them, yes, but they are definitely not as evil nor sordid as the sound that Nekromantheon have introduced in their newest full-length. (Definitely more evil than retro-thrash in its entirety, though). This isn’t a bad thing either. Actually, it works for them in many ways. They pull off a more old-school sound, and at the same time they may even bring to mind the latest work that Midnight have accomplished; their riffing is very catchy, and that definitely works to augment the quality of their thrash. Aside from their pervasive black/speed metal sound, there are some riffs here and there that are more doomy; such as in the intro of “Emperor of Sin,” causing the listener to envisage the monster on the cover to be lurking along a graveyard, seeking out human flesh. The vocals are high-pitched, piercing shrieks, somewhat similar to Nekromantheon, more to early Kreator and Bathory, however. The drums always pummel along viciously, primarily making use of thrash beats; with d-beats thrown in occasionally, as well. The production is dirty and completely agrees with the style of old-school thrash that Deathhammer have pulled off.

All in all, “Onward To The Pits” is a very solid effort, and one most likely on its path to be regarded as one of the best thrash metal releases of 2012. It beats most other current thrash acts to the ground, cuts their faces to bloody pulps, parting shame to their ridiculously overrated, dull, uninspired sound. The guitars are always fast and voracious, lots of riffs very catchy, the vocals malevolent in their sheer intensity, the drums loud and furious. A thrash release that is sure to impress even the most elitist of metalheads; a statement shouting that they will not give in to the current quality of thrash releases, showing that they will, amongst endless crowds of boring bands, prove that thrash can be as great as ever; you just have to look in the right places. Look for some Deathhammer, now.



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