Over the past decade or so, the Middle East has established itself as a hotbed not only of fomenting revolution but also of a burgeoning underground extreme metal scene. And it is a reputation which this sophomore release from Israeli thrashers will more than help to enhance.
Very much rooted in the old school thrash ethics of the likes of Kreator and Sodom, ‘Steelcrusher’ also has a very modern feel to it, with the use of black metal-esque orchestrations (such as on the death metal crossover title track), as well as elements of hardcore (most evidenced on some of the breakdowns), while Yakir Shochat’s often shouted vocals lend a very appropriate DM feel to the likes of ‘Into Hell’ and ‘Ironbound’.
Despite cramming 13 tracks into less than 43 minutes, there is an epic feel to the album, with its seering, 1000 mph riffs, huge rhythms – especially from Maayan Henik, whose drumming is exemplary throughout (check out ‘Unholy Art’ for a prime example of how to combine power and precision, or the intro to ‘Satanic Lust’ to experience a suitably hellish beatdown) – and sheer, punishing yet passionate power.
As mentioned above, Hammercult take their starting point as classic Euro thrash, but throw so much more into their particular melting pot: there are references to Venom, Mercyful Fate (Shochat’s vocal flexibility echoes some of the King’s darker earlier work) and Anthrax, as well latter day progenitors such as Amon Amarth, Children Of Bodom and their Scandinavian counterparts. But, they add in enough originality to stand, more than confidently, on their own two feet and help shape the sound of thrash metal for 2014.
Hymn To The Steel (intro) / Steelcrusher / Metal Rules Tonight / Into Hell / We Are The People / Burning The Road / Ironbound / Unholy Art / Satanic Lust / Liar / Damnation Arise / Heading For War / In The Name Of The Fallen
Recommended listening: ‘Ironbound’.
‘Steelcrusher’ is released on Sonic Attack / SPV on January 27.