Bastard Priest - Under The Hammer Of Destruction
Blood Harvest Records
Death Metal
11 songs (35 minutes)
Release year: 2010
Reviewed by Jake
Surprise of the month

Metal has grown into an incredibly sophisticated music. It always was, to some extent; even the simplest early thrash tunes tended to hide some structural or dynamic trickery beneath their blues-scale hammering. Death metal in particular has become defined by indecipherable structures, constant scalar and rhythmic shifts, changing harmonies and blinding technicality, all woven together into a hideously beautiful musical storm.

And sometimes the best thing to do is say “fuck that” and riff like mad for three minutes at a time.

Swedish death metal band Bastard Priest's debut album Under The Hammer Of Destruction is a Scream Bloody Gore for 2010, a return to the days when death metal was a simplistic, brutal form of escapist thrash. Sure, these songs are impressive and hard to play by any objective standard—this is still metal, after all—but to an audience that's used to getting its death metal from the likes of Nile, Cryptopsy and post-Blessed Are The Sick Morbid Angel, Hammer is almost primal in its simplicity. It was probably inevitable that the return of thrash metal to the forefront of the metal world would precede this kind of throwback death metal, but what could never have been guaranteed was that any of the throwback death albums would be this awesome.

Though I am an avowed lover of technicality in my music (before I was a metalhead I was a Rush fan) Under The Hammer Of Destruction won me over almost instantly. Opening cut Blasphemy From Hell, though solid, is actually one of the disc's weaker tracks (along with Total Mutilation), but it quickly sets the stage for what's to come; its main riff lays down Motorhead-like power chord thrashing interrupted by cutting single-note death metal melodies. The second and longest track Visions of Doom immediately takes the same approach to a plane of better songwriting, establishing that variety is (quite happily) not the order of the day, and the rest of the album follows suit with high-speed simple riffs that alternate chainsaw chords with brief, sinister tremolos and the occasional tortured guitar solo in songs that rarely hit the four-minute mark. The album isn't totally relentless—the band occasionally downshift into slower tempos in moments that are too old-school to be called breakdowns (as they do for the guitar solo on the excellent title track), and there's even one entire song (Chock) that opts for the creepy, crunching, slow flavor of brutality—but the impression listeners will take away from Hammer is that of a full-tempo-ahead, maddeningly brutal and thoroughly satisfying death metal album cooked up 1987-style by true speed freaks.

Killing Songs :
Power of Death, Under the Hammer of Destruction, From Beyond, Graveyard Sacrifice
Jake quoted 90 / 100
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There are 4 replies to this review. Last one on Sat Dec 25, 2010 6:20 am
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