Release DetailsLABEL N/A
RELEASED ON 10/16/2005
From Hand-Axe to Laser EP
posted on 10/2005 By:
Brutal. Savage. Unrelenting. Too often we hear these words from the mouths of gangly geeks who would rather choke themselves with their wallet chains and play dress-up than play a few memorable riffs. Either that, or we’re hearing an aging thrasher who later uses the “I am not that same 20 year old” blah blah blah excuse to explain why his album sounds so watered down. Rarely does anybody actually live up to the hype, which makes me wonder why we as listeners haven’t instituted a bullshit test yet to officially crack down on English grammar abusers who feel it no longer necessary to appropriate the right adjectives to their sound. That said, no such test is needed here with this thrash/death five-piece from Amherst, Massachusetts. With their EP, entitled From Hand-Axe to Laser, Deathamphetamine has risen from relative obscurity to provide just the nipple-twisting and sack-punching that the uninspired, drivel-ridden thrash/death genre hybrid needs.
Few bands bothering to organize themselves, record in a studio, and send their promos off to ‘zines are purely of one genre anymore, whether it be power, thrash, death or black metal. The attractiveness and exoticism of playing something they deem indefinable too strong, most young bands simply choose to take the risk of attempting to carve their own path. Few succeed. When I read that the group was described as a heavy/death band, I almost blew milk out my nose. Not another one of these, I thought. You see, before I delve into a review I usually like to check out the band a bit, which might not be the best idea in terms of coming into the music without expectations, but what the hell, it allows me to understand the group’s intentions. The first thing of note here is that one of the members left the band soon after the recording; the lead guitarist heard here, Asaf Jalfin, was later replaced by Nick Trangiessi. The second thing of note is that these dudes are multidimensional and not afraid of sharing their other interests on their website. For instance, vocalist Ben Hunsdorfer not only sings, but spends his time smoking weed and hating white chicks. Drummer Cristian Gazmuri also smokes weed, but serves as the group’s resident pizza shark and enthusiastic shouter as well. Bassist Marcus Frattura is not only capable of mumbling in and of itself, but mumbling while under the influence of hallucinogens. Trangiessi maintains a new Mohawk while providing Craplebee’s. I nearly flipped out when I read that, too, because I didn’t know anybody else referred to that American institution of higher cuisine as Craplebee’s. Rhythm guitarist Scott Beckett rounds ‘em out with the ability to become angry and confused while drinking bourbon and battling OCD. Drugs, pizza-sharking, and white chick hatred? I am already digging this band and I haven’t heard a god damn note yet!
After having shared a few gay chuckles with the computer screen, I turned on the iPod and proceeded to listen to From Hand-Axe to Laser multiple times all the way through for a few days. It took me a while to find the right comparison, but these guys sound kind of like Overkill side project Speed\Kill/Hate with a few odd blast beats, slightly more death-influenced vocals, and solos that sound a bit higher and tingy. EP opener “Age of the Monolith” sets a frantic pace for the recording with constantly shifting riff work and commanding shouted vocals. It’s not one of the more memorable songs, but it’s certainly one of the most unrelenting, and the title of the song sounded so rad that I had to look up the word monolith, embarrassed as I am to admit. In case you were wondering, it means a single great stone, often in the form of a brick. After looking that up, every time I returned to that track I pictured the group’s rhythm guitarist drunk as hell, bourbon in hand, smashing neighborhood cars with a brick. Before listening to the second track, I was already expecting greatness. Any time a band willingly combines two languages to come up with the name for a song it is practically guaranteed that said song will beat you into submission, and “Vengeance Nacht” proved no different. I might have been lying face flat on the futon at the time and only looking like I had been beaten into submission, but after listening to the track for the first time, I still felt forced into that position, so I guess that’s all that counts anyway, right? You can hear the band building a sound here and letting themselves explore the limitations of both death and thrash without leaning too far into any one territory. The chorus is especially mesmerizing. “Crush” is perhaps the most appropriately titled track on the EP, as within the first thirty seconds it has gone from opening with blast beats to arriving at a consistently pummeling riff, but the last two tracks are where Deathamphetamine shines most brightly. Combining both the relentless elements of the first track and the catchiness of the second track, “From Hand-Axe to Laser” and “The Savage Curtain” display a greater understanding of the balance it takes to sustain the listener’s interest without turning any one segment, death or thrash fans, completely off.
There’s no denying that there’s some strong material on this five track EP. Shouted, slightly death vocals work without being too obvious when layered over thrash riffs, and Deathamphetamine finds its own sound with the last two tracks, an achievement rarely realized by hybrid bands. Those who like their metal fast and grow sick at the sight of too many bells and whistles will dig From Hand-Axe to Laser immediately, as its both straight-forward and accessible. Here’s hoping these miscreants are successful in shopping the EP around and find a label willing to polish its production.
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