HAIL OF BULLETS released a phenomenal Death Metal album in 2008. There was some buzz surrounding “Of Frost And War” (aforementioned album) due to the members of HAIL OF BULLETS having been veterans in the Death Metal world, as it had members of GOREFEST (drummer Ed Warby), THANATOS (guitarists Stephan Gebedi & Paul Baayens) and HOWITSER (bassist Theo van Ekelen), amongst others, and the vocalist was none other than current-ASPHYX and former-PESTILENCE vocalist Martin Van Drunen. Yea, the names of those involved did give this band some publicity, but their debut album was nothing short of a panzer division trampling everything and anything in its path. It was a throwback to old-school sounding Death Metal, like AUTOPSY, GRAVE, (very old) DEATH, etc. And it was awesome. Earlier this year, the band announced that they were going to release a limited edition EP just to keep the hounds at bay, and I was lucky enough to get the promo.
The EP is six songs long: 3 live tracks from “Of Frost And War”, recorded at Party.San Open Air in Bad Berka, Germany; a cover of TWISTED SISTER’s “Destroyer”; and two new tracks. Let’s go down the list, shall we?
The three live tracks have the same intensity as they did back on “Of Frost and War”: similar buzz-saw guitar sound, the same low-tuned guitar riffs that are subtle as a shotgun blast straight to the face and Martin Van Drunen’s tortured growls. I swear, he sounds like he is gargling razorblades while taking an acid bath with open sores all over his body (in a completely good way). The aggression present on “Of Frost and War” is present tenfold on this record. I just wish the band would tour these shores so I can see them live (again), because the band sounds like an army where everyone is on amphetamines charge in the live setting.
The cover sounds a bit odd if you’ve heard the original before, mainly because HAIL OF BULLETS takes a Bluesy Rock song (which must have been pretty heavy for back in the day), and then decide to turn in into a monolithic beast. I’m probably not the only one that thinks it’s amusing to see a TWISTED SISTER song wind up sounding like an hellish anthem for an imperial march, but that’s what HOB did to “Destroyer”. I liked it a lot.
Now, the two new songs are pretty much a continuation in style to what was present on “Of Frost and War”. Basically, old school Death Metal with relatively simple yet extremely heavy riffing that is played with that brutal buzz-saw guitar sound (similar to DISMEMBER & GRAVE), with a very atonal sense of melody (think old PESTILENCE, in a way), and with Martin Van Drunen’s vocals, where he sounds like he’s gone batshit insane due to all of the horrors he’s witnessed in his life. It’s not much different from their debut album, but HAIL OF BULLETS does that sub-genre of Death Metal extremely well, so they are top quality material.
Final verdict: The EP itself is worth getting if you are a big HAIL OF BULLETS fan, but you may have to take into consideration that there are only two new compositions on this album. If that is no bother for you, you should purchase this album ASAP (if it’s not sold out yet).
(Online August 30, 2009)