As cool as it is when the advancements of technology are applied to the face of metal, it’s just damn refreshing to put on a record sometimes and wonder if the thing was recorded in your garage. Just a pile of plugged in guitars and bulldozed fury with no real concern paid to polish.
Nordic thrash warriors Deathhammer never have had any concern for tossing millions into picture-perfect production, and if they started doing that tomorrow, it would be a huge disappointment. Part of the fun of indulging in this band’s collection of mucky riffs is the time and effort is put into playing and hellish expression, something the best producer in the world couldn’t provide if it wasn’t really there. Deathhammer have built their chaos from the ground up, starting with their early demos that surfaced nearly a decade ago, on through the debut album “Phantom Knights” in 2010, now to their brand new full-length “Evil Power” that feels like it was jettisoned from thrash’s swollen belly in 1983. It’s fast, harsh, raw, and blinding, and it’s some of the best fun you’ll have this summer.
Deathhammer remains a two-piece, with Sergeant Salsten on bass, guitar, and lead vocals, and Sadomancer handling drums, guitars, and backing vocals. Live, they expand to a fuller unit, but when they’re creating new evil spheres of hell in the studio, it just takes these two warriors. This new record is eight tracks, nearly 37 minutes of thrashtastic fun that is served in just the right portion and feels like your head exploding in the name of all that is evil. This band keeps delivering the blistering goods, and as long as they do, they’re always going to be worth visiting each time they conjure fresh jams.
Naturally we begin with a track called “Warriors of Evil” that has a smashing riff, melodic carnage, and harsh howls that crackle like Satanic puberty has struck. Salsten has that “Kill ’Em All” James Hetfield and Mercyful Fate-era King Diamond thing going, which makes these songs that much more engaging. “Total Metal” sounds like its title, with fast guitars pounding and a great burst of speed, taking you into thrashy pockets that’ll bruise up your face. The vocals wail and scrape, while blazing guitar soloing builds a fire no one can contain. “Satan Is Back” is raw, simple, and wild, blasting out of the gates, building toward a sinister chorus that’s catchy as hell, and later changing pace on a dime toward a new, albeit no less smothering tempo. Everything crushes and boils, leading to guitars pushing the way and fading out. “Powertrip” gallops hard, with crazed vocals splattering, completely unhinged playing causing extra waves of destruction, and an assault that will leave you squished under their boots.
“Sinner’s Possession” takes a few pages from Maiden’s playbook in the best possible way, as they lay down the thunder and keep your blood pumping. The vocals are pure brutality, with another gem of a chorus that’ll be stuck in your head for hours, excellent soloing that causes flashes, and spiraling thrash to keep you good and disoriented. “Belial’s Curse” tears open with rougher growls to go along with the piercing shrieks, and once again, speed is the king, dashing and killing everything in its path. Soloing takes center stage once again, something this band does quite well, before the vocals return and give this thing one final square kick in the ass. “Rot in Shreds” doesn’t hold many secrets. You likely will be able to guess exactly where this one’s headed, and you’ll be right. And that’s a good thing. The words are basically spat out in mucus form, and the music surrounding them is delirious and fiery. Closer “Omen of the Beast” is meaty and the longest track on the album at 6:47. They make good use of the time, starting with great riffs that do the title well, and the vocals are animalistic and gruff, with Salsten howling, “Armageddon, the best day of life!” Additional strong soloing explodes, as each element of the song blazes harder and higher until the conflagration explodes, leaving soot.
Deathhammer keep getting better with each record, which is a funny thing to say considering they keep simplifying their sound and going for the roughest production values possible. It’s that what they do, which keeps things fun and aggressive, and their records are explosively great times. “Evil Power” arguably is the best shot in their canon, and it’s bound to keep listeners metal thrashing mad until they drum up something else.
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