Sacred Steel - Hammer Of Destruction
Massacre Records
Power/Speed Metal
11 songs (48'00)
Release year: 2006
Massacre Records
Reviewed by Crims

Germany’s Sacred Steel have been around since the late 90’s and have consistently released new CD’s every 2 years or so. Though they are sometimes ignored or bashed due to the unique, but at times off-key vocal performance of Gerrit P. Mutz (this has become less pronounced over the years), I for one have always liked them and their music has consistently been of a similar quality with only a few low points per release that are usually off-set by absolutely killer songs. On their first two releases the production style was rather muted and had a 80’s nostalgia mentality to it that coincided with the 80’s Power/Speed centric song writing and riff styles, but beginning with their 3rd, and in my opinion best release, Bloodlust the band updated their production to a very heavy, intense, modern Power Metal sound while maintaining the same song writing principles. We heard hints of it on Bloodlust but it wasn’t until Slaughter Prophecy that the band fully implemented harsh Death Metal vocals to accentuate choruses and some vocal lines (to great effect mind you). On this release, Hammer Of Destruction, Sacred Steel continues the sound of their previous releases with a few changes to the music. It should be noted that the band went through a guitarist change as both the lead and rhythm player appear to have moved on full-time to the traditional Death Metal band My Darkest Hate and have thus been replaced. The result is a slightly different approach to the riff style but only nutty fans like me who have listened to each Sacred Steel release many times will probably notice the difference. Either way, in any case, we have a few stand-out tracks and then a few that don’t quite go where they should.

The band has always had an 80’s sensibility to their music with many riffs being straight out of the US Power Metal boom of the mid 80’s. Omen has always been a key influence, but we all know Omen wasn’t the only band from that period though they probably had one of the more influential releases in the fantastic Battle Cry. On this release we hear more extremely fast double bass with more modern Power Metal riffing mixed with more of the Speed/almost Thrash riffs that band have used since the beginning. There seems to be more speedy palm-muted Power Metal chugging but for every time they use that often maligned style they incorporate choppy riffs as well as riffs that wouldn’t sound out of place in some of the “Epic” Heavy Metal bands like Brocas Helm, Manilla Road, or Holy Martyr. The result is actually more variation in the riffs than we’ve seen in the past but the riffs that almost bordered on Death Metal on the previous release (probably thanks to My Darkest Hate riffs working their way into Iron Blessings to an extent) are all gone which makes sense given the guitarist change. Overall the music is faster with fewer rhythm changes but the occasional mid-paced section makes an appearance, particularly on the epic but probably two minutes too-long, Black Church. Though not quite as good as Master Of Thy Fate (which I really like) from Bloodlust it holds similar epic properties that give the CD some musical dynamics.

The vocals continue to become more aggressive as on top of the Death Metal vocals Mutz incorporates, on a regular basis, kind of an angry snarl (angry in a raging Metal way, not in an angst-ridden Nu-Metal way) that makes the vocals surprisingly dynamic. I wouldn’t call the vocal performance chaotic, but you’re never quite sure what style Mutz will use next and while the use of the harsh and “angry” clean vocals to accentuate a chorus or a few lines in a verse might seem clichéd, it’s done so well that it becomes highly entertaining. After all, given the lyrical topics (the glory of metal, demons, battle etc) the band is just having fun and playing what they enjoy, and in my opinion it comes across in their music more and more with each release. Sure enough, some songs like Swords And Axes and Black Church don’t quite pan out the way I think most of us would like (i.e. great riffs combined with so-so one’s), and this has been a problem with each release since the beginning. However, I can’t deny the awesome intensity and riffage of the title track, and my personal favorite song from this release Plague Of Terror, whose eerily haunting vocal melodies reminded me a lot of Omen.

Sacred Steel still won’t appeal to everyone thanks to the vocals, but I think they are less of an issue now then they have been in the past since other styles are used. Some might find the music generic, and perhaps it is, but it’s done with such passion and conviction that I always look forward to a new Sacred Steel release (even though this isn’t that new per se) as I know what I’m going to get, and that’s entertaining and fun, no frills, no keys, no flower, riff and speed oriented Power/Speed Metal with slight Thrash undertones. Fans of the band definitely check this out if you haven’t already. If you’re new to the band start with Wargods Of Metal and continue from there and only pick up Reborn In Steel if you find yourself really loving the band. Everyone else’s opinion has already been made but for me I got what I expected, no more, no less, and thus Hammer Of Destruction is a pleasant and respectable addition to an ever-growing catalogue.

Killing Songs :
Hammer Of Destruction, Where Demons Dare To Tread, Maniacs of Speed, Plague Of Terror
Crims quoted 82 / 100
Other albums by Sacred Steel that we have reviewed:
Sacred Steel - Heavy Metal Sacrifice reviewed by Andy and quoted 65 / 100
Sacred Steel - Reborn In Steel reviewed by Crims and quoted 75 / 100
Sacred Steel - Iron Blessings reviewed by Brent and quoted 40 / 100
Sacred Steel - Bloodlust reviewed by Danny and quoted 40 / 100
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