Thrash will not die. It is a genre constantly kicking up dirt and rioting just below the surface. Every once in awhile we’ll catch an intimate glimpse of a twisted claw or disjointed limb a la “Darkness Descends” artwork. HALLOW’S EVE refuse to be left behind and have arrived at the party just in time with their latest offering of retro Metal with skull-splitting riffs, screaming solos, and machine gun drumming.
So where did it go so terribly wrong? I’m of course exaggerating slightly as this still manages to come across as an above average offering, but one cannot deny its shortcomings. I love Sean Killian. I furiously sing along to Bobby Blitz. I am even attached to Dave Mustaine’s angry snarl. Tommy Stewart, however, needs to lose the mic. Half the time this guy rocks the fuck out with excellent growls and the rest is, well, quite atrocious. Stewart favors a clean approach which is simply not strong and which is further destroyed by a horrendous effect which makes the vocal tracks sound like they are layered on top of each other and slightly offset. It is so bad that the guitars could be spitting out the next “Four Horsemen” or, perhaps more appropriately, the next “Plunging To Megadeath” and I’d have no goddamn clue. Your ears close up quicker than your zipper that time you were with that girl and she told you about her little “personal problem”.
Thankfully, vocals are not the defining factor of any album and merely serve as one gigantic hurdle to be leapt. For this reason alone the album must be taken as a challenge, deservedly so as there is a great deal of good riffage to be discovered. Most of the songs remain relatively mid-paced, featuring a great deal of melody, as is signature for the band, while still containing that razor edge. Solos will rip out of nowhere and single-handedly save whole portions of composition marred by Stewart. They tend to come across as rather deliberate in an old-school sense and only occasionally reach a momentum which could be described as manic. The riffs also manage to be somewhat catchy, hinging on the effective rhythms of the chorus to deliver a memorable offering which affords a cheesy atmosphere of enjoyment not far from the comic book theme permeating this band’s career. The feeling accomplished is decidedly HALLOW’S EVE as a band which has undergone a tremendous amount of line-up changes manages to stay true to its original incarnation; which can only be applauded.
The album which shares its name with one of OVERKILL’s best songs manages to avoid disappointment if you can bear to keep your expectations reasonable. I would prefer a copy without the vocal tracks, but what can you do? There’s much better Thrash out there, including material produced post-2000, but this still should get the job done and the air guitar wailing.
(Online November 22, 2006)