Hail Of Bullets
…Of Frost And War
posted on 5/2008 By:
With ex and current members of Asphyx, Houwitser, Thanatos and Gorefest amongst their ranks, you wouldn’t be expecting anything less than a full-on death metal assault from Hail Of Bullets, and that’s exactly what you get on the WW2-themed ...Of Frost And War. This is one of the heaviest death metal albums I’ve heard this year, sounding like the forgotten pupil of the class of 1991. Coming on a bit like Dismember and Obituary if they were mashed together and buried under several layers of sludge, Hail Of Bullets have churned out a relentlessly brutal release, but I’m not sure if that will be quite enough for the discerning death metal heads among you.
Opening with a routine atmospheric instrumental, ...Of Frost And War really begins with "Ordered Eastward", and the thick, heavy sound, buzz-saw guitars and harrowing vocals of Martin van Drunen (great to have him back) are immediately satisfying. And that pretty much sets the tone for each and every track that follows. Hail Of Bullets use speed in a very old school way, in that they don’t go beyond thrash tempos and refrain from blast beats and excess double-kicking. But it’s the slower parts that really characterize these songs, allowing the layers of tar-thick guitar noise to take precedent. Solos are somewhat infrequent, which is a bit of a shame as when they do appear, such as in album closer "Berlin", they’re rife with melody and emotion.
I’d cite at least half of the songs on ...Of Frost And War as standouts. "General Winter" goes out with perhaps the album’s slowest and most brutal passage, with a flurry of guitar squeals layered on top. "Advancing Once More" brings on the groove big-time before shifting into a full-on speed assault not unlike Obituary. "The Crucial Offensive" is an unrelenting barnstormer from beginning to end, while the last two tracks "Inferno at the Carpathian Mountains" and the aforementioned "Berlin" end the album strongly with noticeably more focus than some of the earlier songs. The only problem I really have with ...Of Frost And War is that every one of its twelve tracks exceeds the four-minute mark, needlessly blowing out the runtime to almost an hour. Given the fairly straightforward nature of the music, there’s not enough variation either within or between songs to really justify the album’s length.
...Of Frost And War is easily one of my favorite death metal releases of late, but it’s not perfect. The old school stylings, thunderous sound and intense delivery are all part of what makes Hail Of Bullets rock, but there’s a slight lack of restraint in their arrangements that means these songs fall short of being truly tight and clinical pieces of death metal songwriting. Having said that, I’m sure there are guys out there who appreciate a band sticking to what they do best and will happily bring a ‘more is more’ attitude to this album. Despite my slight misgivings, ...Of Frost And War is a monstrously heavy slab of quality death played by guys who know, and most importantly love, what they’re doing.
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