Monday, February 7, 2011

Review: Hail of Bullets - ...Of Frost and War

Band: Hail of Bullets
Album: ...Of Frost and War
Year: 2008
Genre: Death Metal

Hail of Bullets will never be described as trying to reinvent the wheel. In fact you could say they are de-constructing it down to its bare bones! The band mixes the tried and true formula and style of Bolt Thrower with a tinge of doom (a la Asphyx) and a dash of old school Swedish death metal.

The production is great I have to give them props. While the album is sort of a throw back to old school death metal it does have that gritty feel but its still sounds clean at the same time. The guitar tone especially should be taken note of. Just listen as Before the Storm transitions into Ordered Eastward. The guitars sound like a tank is rolling up on you!

There is also a lot of atmosphere on OFaW. Pay special attention to Berlin when looking at this aspect of the album. The song is laden with doom riffs but they help underscore the feeling of defeat the Germans must have experienced. The last couple of minutes of the song especially give off this feeling with a massively catchy riff that’s played over a doom one as they eventually fade into silence ending the album.

As much as I love this album I have to admit there are a few problems. For one it seems to me to be just a song or two too long. Perhaps it’s because some of the songs actually sound quite alike. The biggest factor in them sounding the same is probably the fact that the riffs mainly lack differentiation.

But there are still a lot of good riffs here. Tracks like Ordered Eastward, Advancing Once More, Insanity Commands, and Berlin all have really catchy guitar parts. In The Red Wolves of Stalin there is probably my favorite part of the album where the music is going without any vocals and out of no where van Drunen comes in with his tortured vocals screaming “slit their fucking throats”.

Speaking of van Drunen he does a really good job on the album. His voice fits the music and lyrical topic(s) perfectly since he comes off sounding like some dying soldier in their death throes screaming their lungs out. I get a kick out of when he just randomly throws a death growl out there into the song for no specific reason (the intro to Ordered Eastward for example) which happens often. In Ordered Eastward Mr. Dan Swano provides guest vocals and they sound really good, in fact I wouldn’t have minded seeing him a little more on the album.

The album is a solid mix of death/doom leaning a bit more on the death side of things which is very pleasing. Though I don’t think the band did enough to differentiate themselves from Asphyx (Martin’s other band) they would fix this with their next album. But …Of Frost and War is still a very good album that switches up the tempo quite often between slower doom and thrashing death metal. While this album does have its flaws the good far outweighs the bad.

Score: 8/10
Standout Track: Ordered Eastward

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