Friday, October 28, 2011

Review: Hail of Bullets - On Divine Winds

Band: Hail of Bullets
Album: On Divine Winds
Year: 2010
Country: The Netherlands
Genre: Death Metal

I love Hail of Bullets so to say I was awaiting On Divine Winds is to put it lightly. ...Of Frost and War had become one of my favorite death metal album and the band itself harkens back to the simplistic groovy style of Bolt Thrower, war themed lyrics included!

Where on the last album HoB seemed to be almost a shadow of Asphyx with their doomy sections on this release they had cut back significantly on the doom and gone for straight mid paced death metal. Sure there are still slower parts but as a whole the album moves along a bit more quickly than before.

There is an undeniable groove to the riffs constructed here. You have the main riff of Operation Z or the easy to headbang to Guadalcanal that has a sort of bounce to the verse riffs. Like I said the slower numbers are still there, To Bear the Unbearable is kind of the epic ending track and like Berlin from the last album it marches along slowly. Tokyo Napalm Holocaust has a few chuggy sections that sound absolutely bad ass as well but a lot of the song crawls and those more speedier sections are almost separate climaxes.

Martin Van Drunen as always brings his A game. He has one of those growls where as soon as you hear it you know exactly who it is. On ODW he belts out line after line of lyrics pertaining to the Pacific theater. I like what the band has going here with the different theaters of war they are exploring with each album.

As always the production is massive. Dan Swano over at Unisound Studio once again did the mixing/mastering. The guitar sound is thick but not in the way you usually think. They sound like a freight train more than anything else. The mix is done pretty well and the guitars/vocals are up from with the drums not far behind. The bass guitar for the most part is no where to be found, maybe I just don't have it up loud enough though. But I think if they gave Theo Van Eekelen more room and a higher spot in the mix they could improve the heaviness of their sound even further. I always loved how Jo Bench filled out the bottom end of Bolt Throwers sound and it would be cool if that was done here as well.

On Divine Winds is an improvement on the foundations HoB laid with OFaW. This is sort of a defining record where they drop the Asphyxisms and do their own thing. Now their own thing might sound really close to what Bolt Thrower was doing but this doesn't bother me one bit. This band still has their own identity though and a sound that is quite their own. This along with God Dethroned's album is easily one of the top releases of 2010.

Score: 9/10
Standout Track: Operation Z, Tokyo Napalm Holocaust, Guadalcanal, Full Scale War

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