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...and the same goes for the band's name and the artwork... We go back to the year 1992. Thrash metal seems to be dead (fortunately, today we know that it was only in a comatose state). "When the Storm Comes Down", "Renewal", "The American Way" and "In Search of Sanity" - these words are already engraved on its tombstone. However, there is a mighty force that strikes back. Its name is Demolition Hammer.
I have seen the exuberant reviews on this side and I broadly agree. Nevertheless, I never had the thought to build an altar for "Epidemic of Violence", because I don't think that each and every song is a killer. In contrast to the vast majority of other albums, the second half blows your mind, while the first half sounds good without reaching the top level. The most exciting part of the pathologically brute album is kicked off by the title track, which is placed on the seventh position. The last three songs lend the album a touch of immortality. They bundle the strengths of the combo in a fascinating manner.
The title track is driven by irresistible leads and Steve Reynolds, lead singer and bassist, sounds angry and absolutely pissed off. Okay, his angry voice is an important feature right from the beginning of "Epidemic of Violence", but these details don't matter. The seventh track with its sudden tempo changes shows that even extremely ferocious songs profit from a fairly catchy chorus. But "Omnivore", the following track, is even more brutal. Epidemic of violence, indeed! "Omnivore" seems to be the sonic depiction of a deadly shot of a sniper. Its precise, sharp and straight hooliganism violates any usual form of aesthetics. More or less the same applies for the closer. In spite of the fact that the band has written another concise chorus with an iota of melody, "Aborticide" presents the audience a total mutilation of beauty. It makes clear for the last time that Demolition Hammer's heaviness is based on brutality, vehemence and ruthlessness. Whatever stands in the way of this grim triple strike at the end of the album, the songs unleash a storm that will blow everything away.
The further tunes are anything else but bad. In terms of style, they are aligned with the aforementioned explosions. It is interesting to note that the songs do not put the focus on a smooth flow. They sound choppily (yet professional) and the staccato riffs are surely a reason for the extra portion of sadistic violence. The production supports this compositional approach, because it spreads a certain coldness. Unlike various thrash bands, Demolition Hammer did not create a racy sports car, but a surprisingly manoeuvrable steel colossus, a tank that fires continuously. Their unpitying version of thrash does not really border on death metal, because animalistic growling and low-tuned guitars are missing. It also does not contain even the smallest grain of black metal. Yet it lies in close proximity to brutality itself. Needless to say that the high velocity of the compositions does the rest.
"Epidemic of Violence" is probably not a masterpiece of compositional brilliance, it has lost a few percent of its power over the years and fans of diversity should not look out for this album. But it has some great tunes and another crucial advantage: back in 1992, it was a statement against the effeminacy of (more or less) the whole scene. Completely pigheaded, the band members tortured their instruments (and nobody thought that their next output would join the list of the aforementioned lukewarm outputs). Maybe with the exception of the title track of "The American Way", the albums that I mentioned at the beginning are forgotten. "Epidemic of Violence" lives on. Isn't it great to be a part of such a righteous community?
Forlorn we once were, upon concluding that “Reign in Blood” was the incarnation of sadism: dejected indeed, at the thought Slayer is the apex of malice. The metal world paid a penance in 1992-one of ungrudging perdition. Demolition Hammer eagerly provided a fitting atonement for our preconceived notions. Gladly, we beseech thee for more punishment.
Epidemic of Violence is the embodiment of unadulterated, head rending vehemence: an experience in enjoyable torment: a gleeful undoing of mind and body. Should you survive the unceasing banging of the head, count on becoming a paraplegic from the jolting you’ll receive. This album should come with warning that prepares the listener for potential disfigurement. More than likely, the next person you engage with in carnal desires will be considered a necrophiliac.
“Peerless rage” is the best way to describe the experience of listening to the album. Demolition Hammer besieges the senses with a tidal wave of chainsaw-laden riffs. A comatose state is narrowly avoided as the rapid fire drumming threatens to raze the surrounding speakers to ash. Production quality is top-notch for an album of the genre. None of the instruments sound overpowering or muddy, nor does the album appear too “posh” or “polished.”
“Skull Fracturing Nightmare” unleashes the dogs of metal like a lightning bolt snorting amphetamines. The vocals consummate the marriage between death metal and thrash, with an optimum blend of venom spitting and rasping. Thunderous guitars hasten the journey to homicidal reverie, fully supported by the classic drumming style of Kreator. “Human Dissection” shows the band is equally as ruinous at slow speeds, and “Pyroclastic Annihilation” is a moderately paced terror, that accelerates into a menacing binge of throat clenching madness with the aid of a dense bass line and Steve Reynolds’ fervent barking. “Aborticide” is the best track on the record, both musically and lyrically. The main riff is a concentrated battering ram, inflated in raw power by lyrics that graphically describe abortion. Thrash breaks are enormously important in the realization of a classic, and Aborticide fully encompasses the ideal.
Demolition Hammer, like Devastation, consistently remains effective with mixed tempo songs. Epidemic of Violence beats the listener into a gradual stupor with deliberately sluggish chunk before stomping the brain with agitated vengeance. The album does have a few weak moments. “Carnivorous Obsession” is a tad pondering, and “Orgy of Destruction;” an instrumental, seems like an afterthought. Regardless of the album’s flaws, any fan of brutality and tight delivery will remain pleased for hundreds of listens.
Cease and desist all resistance, lest you experience more pain when Demolition Hammer performs coitus with your eye sockets.
What Demolition Hammer has done here was take the rabid death-thrash influence of bands like Sepultura, Morbid Saint and Dark Angel, crank up the intensity two-fold, and strip everything down to its raw, utterly pissed-off core. It still retains the values of their excellent debut album, “Tortured Existence”, but here the death metal influences are more prevalent, the songs are a little more memorable and better constructed, the tempos are faster, and the riffs are more complex and plentiful. It is easily the band's greatest work, and possibly one of the most brutal and vicious thrash albums released at the end of the genre's reign in the early 90's.
This isn't necessarily supposed to be “Tortured Existence part 2”, as this is a completely different beast. The production here isn't necessarily heavier or better, it's just a lot fuller and cleaner, better suited for the death-thrash style. “Tortured Existence” had a very distinct buzzsaw guitar sound that suited its more straightforward thrash style. The guitars here still buzz somewhat and the tone is massive and immensely heavy, almost machine-like. Steve Reynolds' bass lines aren't that high in the mix, yet they blend in with the massive wall of sound that is the guitars.
Very prominent in the mix, drummer Vinny “Daze” Civitano puts a lot of his focus on death-metal inspired kick-drum and snare patterns – happily slathering on rapid blast beats and manic double-bass lines whenever he can. One thing I have to emphasize is how fucking heavy these drums are. This has some of the most satisfyingly heavy drum sounds of any thrash album I have heard. The bass-drums and toms are absolutely massive, and the snare is almost as heavy as atomic explosions. The use of cymbals are minimal, making all the other drum parts appear heavier.
Steve's vocals are very much like the previous album – a somewhat nasily and very pissed off rasp, much like something you would hear on early Kreator or Morbid Saint. The title of this album gives you a great idea of what the lyrics are about – violence and the love for destruction and mayhem. Of course the lyrics are often gory and death-metal inspired, as showcased on “Human Dissection” and “Aborticide”. And you have a few more interesting numbers, such as “Skull Fracturing Nightmare” which deals with medieval torture devices, and “Pyroclastic Annihilation” which is about volcanic destruction. The lyrics are unabashedly violent and fit perfectly with the music – they do not try to be anything but that.
Guitarists James Reilly and Derek Sykes churn out slews of complex riffs, rhythms and solos left and right like well-oiled thrash-machines gone haywire. Their riff palette is immense, each song containing numerous mounds of varying riffs that range from hyper-rapid tremolo-picking, to more rhythmic grooves, to demented chromatic death-metal riffs. Like the previous album, the solos are excellently crafted and have a somewhat jazzy expression – showing off more traditional major-minor keys, opposed to the usual chromatic/pentatonic thrash fare.
The album is very often insanely fast, sometimes even rivaling the likes of Dark Angel and Kreator. “Skull Fracturing Nightmare”, “Envenomed”, “Omnivore”, and “Aborticide” are all balls-out thrashers and are the most intense and breakneck tracks on the album, narrowly edging out the intensity of the title track as well as “Pyroclastic Annihilation.” The slower, gratingly heavy sections within songs like “Human Dissection” and “Carnivorous Obsession” are completely deceiving – whenever everything seems to have cooled into a mid-paced groove, the song is unexpectedly launched into a manic frenzy of hyperballistic thrash riffs. Every song seems to be like this; the structures are complex and unpredictable, frantically undulating between extreme tempo and riff changes without apology. And the thing is, “slower” in this case is more often than not still pretty fucking fast and intense. Just listen to the two aforementioned songs as well as the breaks on “Envenomed” and “Skull Fracturing Nightmare” - the blaring double bass and drum fills underneath the massive slabs of brutal grooves are just as chaotic as the more blistering thrash parts. The album just never lets up until the very end.
All of the songs are amazingly crafted and unique, but if I had to choose some personal favorites, they would definitely have to be the two book-end tracks “Skull Fracturing Nightmare” and “Aborticide”. The only real letdown is the pointless, nearly one minute long filler “Orgy of Destruction”, which sounds like an outtake that had potential to blossom into another complete track.
Many bands nearing the late 80's and early 90's combined elements of thrash and death metal into unified seething, formidable orbs of pure anger, aggression, and technicality. Possibly no other band did this so well or so notoriously as Demolition Hammer did in 1992. A few of the bands that played so perfectly in this style and that were in the same league as them at this time were Exhorder, Sepultura, Dark Angel, Slayer, and Morbid Saint. Unfortunately, as thrash fell off the radar, so did most of these bands. Some even went the alternative/groove metal route, including Demolition Hammer who released one last album, “Time Bomb”, before disbanding after the death of drummer Vinny Daze. This was one of the last great thrash albums released in the 90's, and what a damn high note to leave off on.
I personally was much too young at the time to have an informed contemporary opinion on the matter, but I imagine that by the time Metallica released their self-titled album, every remaining thrash band realized that they were well and truly fucked. Heavy metal would reach its nadir by the end of the decade, marked by bands which once deeply upset your mother releasing albums that sounded like tributes to either Nirvana or Pantera. Enter Demolition Hammer - though they too would fall from grace, before they did, they released thrash metal's last great work. With their scene functionally dead by 1992, they added one final stanza to the epitaph by creating what I would argue is perhaps the greatest thrash metal album of all.
At least to me, the most definitive quality of thrash metal has always been the style's unrelenting, raw, pervasive anger. Nothing resonates more strongly with me than a thrash album in which the band sounds genuinely pissed off. I don't think that kind of anger has ever been more believable than it is here. These men were the last of their kind, and I think that the frustration they felt from that has been channeled into this album. There is a great abundance of thrash metal with themes that center around violence. Rarely has the music itself ever sounded so genuinely violent, and literally never has a thrash band presented such an abominably ugly perception of that violence.
Skull Fracturing Nightmare opens this album, and I will openly admit that for quite a while, I was afraid of it. The key to this album is that despite much of its lyrical content having been handled by multitudes of bands before and after, Demolition Hammer had no interest whatsoever in glorifying it, overplaying it, or satirizing it. To me, Cannibal Corpse was never a truly disturbing group because their lyrics were always so exaggeratedly gory that there was no way to take them seriously. Here, Demolition Hammer is not presenting you a masturbatory fantasy from the notebook of Chris Barnes - this is a stark, bleak, and disturbingly realistic look at kinds of systemic torture that have really happened. This is the march of the Spanish Inquisition. My eyes glazed over and went out of focus when I first followed along with the lyrics. Yours will too, if you understand how completely literal they are being. Of course, this song wouldn't be nearly so terrifyingly captivating if the lyrics weren't backed up by great music, which they are. The closing riff to this song is the essence of thrash metal. The opening rapid-fire sections are delivered with precision that would make Cannibal Corpse blush.
The next three tracks are admittedly not what I return to this album to hear, but they do one thing very well - emphasize exactly how heavy this music is. I don't think that it is a stretch at all to claim that this is the heaviest thrash metal album ever recorded, and also heavier than a fair amount of death metal. Where things truly get interesting is in Carnivorous Obsession, in which the band drastically slows down and focuses instead on delivering a steady thrash riff with only slight alterations and brief interludes throughout. The band shows a great deal more control than would be expected with the fade-outs surrounding Orgy of Destruction, but what truly stands out is the abrupt shift into high gear we receive upon reaching the title track. Epidemic of Violence, and also Omnivore and Aborticide after it, have no interest whatsoever in relenting or doing anything other than pummeling the listener. This is aggressive, violent thrash in its purest form. The title track in particular demonstrates a level of creativity in riffing that has rarely been seen.
The quality of this recording cannot be overstated. This original pressing of this album sounds excellent on my shitty car speakers 23 years after its release. The guitar tone is solid and the vocals are tracked with just the right level of volume and exposure, but what really stands out to me is the bass and drums. In particular on Skull Fracturing Nightmare and the title track, the duo anchor the music to a degree that is rarely heard in anything that moves this quickly or chaotically. The vocals are delivered with hatred and ferocity that is on par with many early death metal records, which this quite thoroughly surpasses in many respects. The influence that the contemporary death metal of the day had on this album is apparent, as there are many passages (particularly in Human Dissection) in which I find myself thinking that if there were simply blast beats there, this would be considered death metal.
The bottom line is simple. This is a jaw-droppingly powerful album. That this was recorded while metal was quickly dying around the band makes it all that more remarkable. There are death metal bands that should be scared of this album. The degree of ferocity and ugliness on display here makes Slayer's Reign in Blood seem like it was recorded by children. Get this album, respect it, and treasure it - it was the last of the greats.
By 1992, thrash was in trouble. BIG trouble. Not only were grunge rock bands like Nirvana topping the charts, but albums like Metallica's "Black Album" and Pantera's "Vulgar Display Of Power" had watered down the standard of mainstream "heavy" music and paved the way for groove metal and nu-metal bands alike. Not only that, but thrash wasn't the heaviest music around anymore; death metal was rapidly devouring the genre whole and morphing it into something even more twisted and demonic. All across the board, bands were abandoning ship, either by radically altering their sound to fit these new trends or just quitting altogether.
It is for these very reasons that the final wave of underground thrash metal (1988-1992) is my personal favourite period of the genre's history, for you see it was during these final years that we were treated to some of the most brutal, vicious, and just downright PISSED OFF-sounding thrash ever conceived. There's no denying that this music's primary objective is to serve as the ultimate outlet for internal rage and frustration and, well, to me nothing seems more frustrating than seeing an entire music scene that YOU helped create come crashing down before your eyes...finding yourself in a race against time as you struggle to compete against both a darker, more evil-sounding metal and the sell-out expectations of major labels. It's no wonder that the albums released by lesser-known bands (i.e. NOT Metallica) during this period sound so intense, so full of hate, and so completely balls-to-the-wall insane, like every band had a bone to pick with the whole fucking planet. So many classic albums, like Overkill's "Horrorscope", Heathen's "Victims Of Deception", Laaz Rockit's "Nothing$ $acred", Dark Angel's "Time Does Not Heal", Sepultura's "Arise", Exhorder's "The Law", Razor's "Open Hostility", and countless others were all released during this final tragic period of thrash metal's history. And then, of course, there's the album we're here to talk about today, the crown jewel of thrash metal's final days as king.
As far as brutality goes, "Epidemic Of Violence" by Demolition Hammer is about as fucking heavy as thrash can get before straying into pure death metal territory. Seriously, this album is fucking VICIOUS and it can easily stack up against anything recorded by Cannibal Corpse, Autopsy, Suffocation, Malevolent Creation, or any other death metal band from that era. The whole album sounds like the band took the primitive style of their first album, "Tortured Existence" (a respectable album in its own right), and injected a speedball directly into it.
Every conceivable ante has been upped here. Steve Reynolds' vocals are some of the sickest, raspiest, and most insane-sounding of any thrash band. The guitars and bass are both razor-sharp and bludgeoning, cutting through the mix with ease and melting your face off with punishing riff after riff. The drums are absolutely crushing with the kick drums in particular sounding like actual demolition hammers pounding away at your skull nonstop. Vinnie Daze (R.I.P.) also employs a few death metal drum techniques (i.e. blast beats) on this album to great effect.
In terms of the actual songs, the best way I can describe them is 39 minutes of pure, face- melting, death metal-inspired THRASH. Yeah, the songs do tend to run into each other a lot, but who fucking cares? That's kinda the point anyway. The album is meant to be a short, but memorable slab of some of the most intense thrash you'll ever hear, and that's exactly what it is. No bullshit, just straight to the point. And besides, simply sitting here talking about every single song simply won't do them justice. You REALLY must hear these songs yourself in order to believe just how fucking intense and visceral they are. EVERY single one. From "Skull Fracturing Nightmare" to "Aborticide", there's never a dull moment on this album, believe me.
The only other album I can think of that even comes close to this level of brutality would be "Spectrum Of Death" by Morbid Saint, and in a genre with a seemingly endless sea of bands, that's saying quite a lot. If you're a thrash fan trying to expand your horizons, a death metal fan who can't get into thrash because it's too "tame", or just a fan of extreme metal in general, then I can't recommend this album enough. You will NOT be disappointed.
Standout tracks: EVERYTHING!!!!!!
I tend to like genres pushed to their extremes, typically bands which push right on the edge of chaos and absurdity in their over the top violence will appeal to me on some base level, but for whatever reason this never really happened to me with brutal thrash, and this album is almost certainly the heaviest and most brutal of the lot. For whatever reason, this breed of brutal thrash just doesn't appeal to me in the slightest, and seems to miss out on everything I find the genre pulls off well. The production is huge, the drums sound like concentrated nuclear explosions, the guitars smash notes together like a couple of speeding freight trains, and the singer snarls his damned head off, the songs are written almost entirely to combine those three things into a singular meteor to the face and delivering it as quickly and as frequently as humanly possible. In short, it has a clear goal and it executes it flawlessly, and when someone can take thrash and make it genuinely and unarguably heavier than 80% of death metal you've done something extremely impressive, I can definitely see why so many people like it, but for me it's lacking something; manic frenzy.
This is pretty much the Enmity of thrash. When other brutal death metal bands set out with same goal, namely to create the most brutal death metal ever, they went out to try and be as excessively frantic, unpredictable and vitriolically fast as possible, like Brodequin or the Mexican Disgorge for instance, Enmity went another way. They focused on the pulverizing parts of their genre, and just worked them over and over, sure the music was still fast, but it wasn't the fastest, it was just an unrelenting jackhammer of chugging, slamming gurgle death with no room to breathe, and in its own way it did push the genre the furthest it could go in one direction. Demolition Hammer more or less do the same thing with the most skull bashing thrash breaks the genre had ever created and generally apply the same low chugging downstroke doubled with forceful bass kick concept to the entire album, making the resulting album an imposing rolling behemoth of mechanical devastation.
...I don't look for thrash for mechanical devastation. For me thrash's general extremity limits are far below what is capable in the genres it spawned, which again, I must express my respect for these guys for getting something which competes well against these newer genres, but as it stands, real pulverizing weight is not the genre excels in for me, instead I tend to appreciate the speed, the reckless abandon and frenetic excessiveness, and general manic frenzy that just willfully goes as nuts as it can while barely holding itself together. Stuff like Sadus, Hellwitch, Aspid and Inquisitor pushed those boundaries for me, and personally delivered what I would consider thrash's best elements really exaggerated. Epidemic of Violence completely lacks this on-edge element that really makes good thrash stand out to me, it's methodical, it's systematic, it's controlled and focused to deliver the most well orchestrated hammer blow as possible, and this leaves it pretty boring and uninteresting beneath its outer layer of extremity. It's pretty much Morbid Saint if you stripped out all the cool variations where they went nuts on riffs, or maybe early Deicide without the evil, the death metal tone and the technical sections.
The majority of the riffs on this album are exceptionally tight with the drums, with not a whole lot of note exploration going on as the guitarists ram on the heaviest note they've got in conjunction to rolling double bass hits, there isn't a huge amount of real off the wall riffing, instead leaving an endless trail of DUGADUGADUGADUGADUGA which does nothing more than pummel you in the ribs. It's not really all that interesting on in depth listens, and even worse it kinda makes the whole thing sound slower than it is. These guys can play really fucking fast, the rate that the right hands fly here is so intense it may as well be a bunch of picks taped on the front of high powered cooling fan with a guitar sitting in front of it, but the way it sits in line with the percussion makes the general tempo feel slower than it is. It just never feels like it's on the edge of breaking apart, and I find that it makes the album feel quite safe.
That's not to say this is bad or anything, it's intense as hell, and it doesn't let up, the production is ideal for the approach, and I couldn't call it repetitive since they shift between hefty grooves, seriously fast wrist workouts, and a few more outwardly "riffy" riffs while sticking to their chosen sound, I just can't find a way to get excited for it overall. There are moments where the riffs get more interesting and I begin to feel some love for the album, but they are few and far between. I also like the solos a lot, which surprisingly adopt a very traditional metal/rock 'n' roll type phrasing which is quite a fun and unexpected bedfellow to all the thumping, and they are pretty good. But even with these good things, the album is still heavily skewed towards the meatier, tighter base sound and these little breaks of life and flair do little to alleviate the general feeling of boredom.
A primary cause of the boredom is definitely the song length, which typically runs close to five minutes per track while none of the songs really need to be much over three. The songs tend to feature minimal hectic riffs or solos or generally interesting elements over the course of the duration, leaving about three to four minutes of time in each song that needs to be covered by more DUGADUGADUGA jackhammering or pounding grooves. Take the ever popular "Human Dissection" for instance, it's a song which has a few noticeable upsides which are the main appeal of the song which exist among the general sound of the band, they quality of these good parts is not in question, but the ratio of cool to brutal but faceless time filler is pretty damning.
The song's standout moments are obvious; you've got the insanely heavy break at the 1:30 mark, which, while being pretty much the same "pound the guitar in unison with the drums" idea as most of the album with a little bit of extra flair on the end, the execution is absolutely perfect, resulting in the most purified savagery imaginable which really is as heavy as any metal has ever been regardless of genre or era. In addition to that little break is a couple of pretty damned ripping solos with a nice mix of heavy metal melodic phrasing and great speedy shredding. The super heavy part is 30 seconds long, the first 10 of which are the most delightfully overwhelming, and each of the solos clock in at just under that, which is all well and good, you've got roughly a minute and a half of really impressive stuff... sadly the song is over 5 minutes long. The other three and half minutes of the songs are a relentless grooving thrash break which delivers bugger all in the way of exciting riffs, instead merely deciding to just thump you in the face over and over in a workman-like manner. All the songs have a moment or two worthy of a special mention and some praise but none of them have any more than that minute and half of actually exciting material, and all bar two are over four and a half minutes long, these songs should be pushing three and a half to four minutes max, but they all run for much, much longer than that.
So to finish off with friendliest closing paragraph I've ever written for an album I've scored in the low sixties, this not a mediocre album, it's not a generic album, it's a downright pivotal album that any thrash fan does owe themselves to have a listen of. It is a clear outlier in pure execution of its ideas, no other bands have come along and beaten at its own game, leaving it a historical landmark rather than a musical one, it truly is the clear edge marker for pushing some elements of thrash to their absolute end point and logical conclusion; it's just that it pushes all the elements in thrash I don't particularly care about. It's not bad, it's just not what I look for, if you're the type who finds a good thrash break to be the purest form of rocking out there, you'll love this unconditionally, just for me it doesn't have enough things to make me get involved beyond a constant respectful admiration for the heaviness; the riffs just don't do much to excite me in general. Epidemic of Violence is successfully devastating, but ultimately boring, shallow and unexciting... I'm not allowed back in the hall am I?
Riffing is an art that has, unfortunately, been drowned out by the wad of commercially oriented garbage released today. In what reality could bands such as Bring Me The Horizon, Black Veil Brides or Bullet For My Valentine stand toe to toe with a titan such as Megadeth, Iron Maiden, Kreator or Slayer? There is perhaps one particular sub genre of metal in which the riff is everything, that makes or breaks the album. This is, of course, thrash metal, and few bands could boast such riffs as Demolition Hammer.
Formed in 1986, the first album released by this band almost missed the window for key thrash releases, being released in 1990. The band are sadly overlooked by many who are not well versed in the genre of thrash metal and therefore their three albums remained, for the most part, underground. Tortured Existance was a poorly produced album, with very few standout tracks, but still retained an intense feel to it, and hinted at the absolute thrash monster of an album that would be released two years later. Demolition Hammer had laid their blue print of aggressive vocals, killer drumming and insanely talented guitar work, but their masterpiece was to come.
Fast forward to 1992, and Epidemic Of Violence was released, combining blinding speed with highly technical and well written guitar riffs, as well as some crazy drum work and some of the most demented thrash vocals this side of Sodom. Clocking in at 40 minutes, with 9 songs speaking of various acts of violence, there are very few bands out there that can lay claim to the throne of thrash metal kings quite as well as Demolition Hammer. This is an album that only knows how to thrash as hard and fast as possible with riff upon riff of absolute intensity and aggression that sounds ready to break the listener's knees.
From the opening of Skull Fracturing Nightmare, the listener instantly knows they are in for a treat. The master craft riff work is right at the forefront, with Derek Sykes and James Reilly really thrashing away. The vocals from Steve Reynolds spew absolute venom, without ever sounding too ridiculous. The drumming from Alex Marquez may well be some of the best in the thrash genre. He is completely flawless throughout this release, keeping a solid rhythm, and with some crazy speed changes.
Pyroclastic Annihilation has some of the best riffs found throughout the album, with a huge amount of them and not one being sub standard. This song is very technically written, and has some very well formed changes in tempo that give it somewhat of a progressive nature, but without ever forgetting that it is on a thrash album. The vocals add to the intensity somewhat, and even the bass is completely audible, as with the rest of the album, clunking along forming some nice grooves for the rest of the band to build upon. The riff at about 3.00 is undoubtedly one of the best written riffs in thrash metal history. This song stands head on with such thrash classics as Holy Wars and Angel Of Death as one of the best thrash songs in history.
The leads for this album are unnaturally talented, being both fast and listenable. Seriously, there are very few people who can lay down solos quite as intense or well written as the two guitarists on this album, with their interchanging leads that add to the heavy nature of the release perfectly without ever distracting from the big picture. The solos on Epidemic Of Violence are thankfully not the toneless nonsense found on the average album by a band such as revered thrash artist Slayer, and have a subtle degree of melody despite the sheer blinding speed behind them.
Throughout this entire release, the listener is gifted unrivalled brutality, that savagely assaults his or her ears until they feel they can take no more, and even then it does not relent. This is a dark, evil journey through the twisted violent impulses that only Demolition Hammer can deliver through their fast, technical, guitar lead assault. This album comes highly recommended to absolutely anyone into any form of metal. For some, it can be a gate way into heavier music, and for others it can be a reminder of what real guitar work is all about. Either way, just buy the ***ing album
“Tortured Existence” is easily one of the heaviest albums ever recorded. Demolition Hammer is easily one of the best band names ever. “Epidemic of Violence” might just be the most intense album ever. So they had quite a reputation to live up to with their second album. They not only met those expectations but exceeded them with flying colors.
Well, what makes this album different from their first? The entire band stepped it up in a huge way. The production is better and worse at the same time. The guitars on the first album were too fucking heavy in the best possible way. The drums sounded good on the first but they have greatly improved on this album. The drum sound mixes perfectly with the guitars on this album. The drums are loud and sound great when played fast. The guitars aren’t as heavy as the first album but still insanely heavy but I actually prefer them on this album because I feel like they mesh with everything else better. The bass could be louder but has a few moments on here. Steve’s vocals have greatly improved. He sounds like a fucking monster. He gave this album a death metal feel with his vocals.
The album starts with “Skull Fracturing Nightmare”. It not only has one of the coolest titles ever, it delivers in every department you could imagine. Nothing about this song is flawed whatsoever. Right when it starts, you know what you’re getting into; A nonstop thrash assault that will rip you apart and then dissect the pieces (see the lyrics to the first track). Next up is “Human Dissection”. The double bass is enough to wonder how the drummer even survived the recording of this song. He really shines on this song especially. The first album had a problem with fillers. This album doesn’t really have that problem. Some songs aren’t up to par with the title track or first track but all tracks deliver an all out thrash assault that doesn’t let up for the entire album. “Pyroclastic Annihilation”, “Envenomed”, and “Omnivore” are among the songs that are not up to par but are still pretty damn good. “Aborticide” is probably the fastest song along with the title track. “Carnivorous Obsession” is a slower; more doom sounding song with one of the heaviest riffs of all time written.
Well, there you have it. One of the most intense albums ever written reviewed. If you liked their first album, you’re in for a treat like no other. GET THIS ALBUM!
Best tracks – “Epidemic of Violence”, “Skull Fracturing Nightmare”, and “Aborticide”
Demolition Hammer are one of those thrash bands that release an insanely pummeling record that seems to make hardly any splash in the scene. Though this album was released a little bit late, thrash metal still had a cult of rabid followers in the early 90's and despite that, this record hasn't seemed to get the acknowledgement it deserved until just very recently. Like Morbid Saint's "Spectrum of Death", "Epidemic of Violence" is a hidden gem of unbridled force in a very saturated scene. Once discovered though, this gem can truly shine.
Songs like "Aborticide" and "Human Dissection" simply take the term "thrash metal" to an entirely new level, smashing the listener at break-neck speeds and with such force that they will shatter windows. The word, "thrash" is perfectly epitomized in the very core of this album. From the first track to the very last, resounding moments of this album, Demolition Hammer successfully do what thrash metal had been working towards since its inception: take heavy metal, increase its speed and power to almost unimaginably high levels, and smash it into the ears of willing (or unwilling) listeners. For me, I can't help but get up and mosh when the sounds of this album hit me.
The guitar tone is spot on and brutal, but not too distorted. The drumming is phenomenal and doesn't let up, surpassing even the performances of such legendary thrash drummers as Ventor, Dave Lombardo, and maybe even Gene Hoglan. No fan of extreme metal should pass up an opportunity to blast this record, and blasting is exactly what something so profoundly heavy deserves, and has deserved since its creation. Not only are the songs the perfect picture of brutal thrash metal, they don't sacrifice structure and writing for brutality for brutality's sake. The entire album is laced with building introductions, swerving patterns and verses, and speedy, well placed guitar solos.
If one finds themselves looking for just a brief moment of this thrashing madness, fearing being bowled over TOO much, then the tracks "Skull Fracturing Nightmare", "Aborticide", and "Human Dissection" will do just fine to represent exactly what Demolition Hammer is accomplishing with this album.
This is, quite frankly, the heaviest album I have ever heard. Forget brutal death metal. This does the trick.
It really shouldn't be possible to release an album this damn amazing nearly ten years after the inception of the thrash subgenre. Thrash seemed to peak during 1986 with masterpieces like "Pleasure to Kill," "Reign in Blood," and "Darkness Descends," rendering all later output by other bands virtually a compliment to these divine creations. Still, once "Epidemic of Violence" is heard by a listener for the first time, their reaction might be similar to the reaction of someone who just ran away from a speeding bull or the survivor of a hellacious trainwreck. Demolition Hammer's sophomore release is akin to a shot of adrenaline directly into one's heart because never before has there been such a combination of brutality, catchiness, and relentless aggression in a single thrash album before. Sure, Kreator really set the standard for brutality in the thrash genre with their magnum opus "Pleasure to Kill", but Demolition Hammer took that sound and injected an amount of catchiness and an almost groove-like sensation that the entire genre was unable to successfully do for nearly ten years.
There isn't a single thing that Demolition Hammer did wrong with the music on this record. The midpaced moments are astounding in how incredibly heavy they are for a thrash act. While a band like Bolt Thrower is notorious for their undeniable heaviness and crushing midpaced riffs, there's a distinct difference in the sounds of the two bands, because Demolition Hammer didn't need to downtune their guitars as low as the death metal masters, yet their music could smash through a brick wall all the same. The intro to "Human Dissection" is devastating with its thunderous double bass drumming a la Vinny Daze and vile guitar playing that could be compared to a giant stomping through a city and the midpaced riffs on the title track could make a corpse headbang. The faster moments of "Epidemic of Violence" are equally diabolical and intense as the slower stuff, with the track "Omnivore" being a blitzkrieg upon the listener's eardrums, but a sonic assault like this has never been more catchy.
Steve Reynolds' vocal performance on this album is a highlight all of its own. His insane barks during the slower parts of the band's music take the already brilliant songs to a level that you never thought thrash could go and his rapid-fire assault during the faster moments (Think "Aborticide" and "Omnivore") is in a word, "eargasmic," not to mention the stellar gang vocals throughout which are just as destructive. Vinny Daze won't go down in history as one of the best drummers to ever sit behind a kit, but his work on this record is beyond superb and will be the shining moment of his legacy. The soloing isn't mindblowing, but they get the job done well and they're never playing over a dull riff, so I can't bring myself to even try and complain about it. Honestly I could talk about "Epidemic of Violence" and Demolition Hammer all day, but it would be easier to just turn the volume all the way up and seclude myself from existence for 39 and a half minutes while I headbang myself silly.
"Skull Fracturing Nightmare"
"Epidemic of Violence"
Originally written for Nightmare Reality Webzine.
"Fucking hell, this shit smokes" Was the first thing I said as soon as that opening riff from "Skull Fracturing Nightmare" came flying out of my speakers on that glorious day this disc came through my letter box. Let me make one thing clear right from the start of this review. The guitar tone alone is enough to smash the listeners face in. But coupled with the riffs this band laid down on this record and you have one of the best thrash albums to ever exist.
Brutal thrash / death hybrid riffs thrown around left, right and bloody centre here. Rocking pentatonic thrash solos and the pounding clinical drum work backed up by a solid bottom end coming from the bass. No pretension just the most pounding, heavy and face smashing thrash album possibly ever. The riffs are technically proficient in places like in the previously mentioned opener , "Pyroclastic Annihilation" and the title track. The tempo is obviously quiet fast a lot of the time but the band change tempo perfectly on this record. The guitar guys in this bad really display a wide arsenal of riffs on this one. From fast pounders to brutal mid paced atonal thrash riffs and creepy death metal style open chords over fast drum beats. The band show they are anything but a one trick pony here.
And don't even get me started on the vocals, Venomous, spiteful and full of hate. Complimenting the music perfectly. This album is as bad ass as it gets for thrash. No boring song structure's either just epically constructed songs composed of various riffs. The good thing about the structure of the songs on this. Is the fact the band aren't stupid they always manage to play the riff as many times as its needed and the riffs always pop back up in the best places. Like in "Skull Fracturing Nightmare" a sudden stab of chords into that insane mid paced articulate riff. Displaying an amazing groove and articulation. The riffs are also catchy which is always important it will stick in your head and you will be able to hum a lot of the riffs. Which is quiet a feat when the album is this brutal and the amount of riffs on offer here. Like in "Envenomed" that kick ass intro riff which instantly gets your attention into two insane fast and brutal verse riffs just fucking quality riff work here from the first second to the last.
I couldn't possibly chose album picks here because this is just beyond insane from the first second to the last this album has quiet a good reputation with more underground thrashers and death metal fans. However this band deserved much more attention and praise they got in my opinion. One of the best albums of thrash and something which I think every fan of thrash should have without question. Fans of thrash infused death metal will also love this. But personally I think even if you have a passing interest in both these genres I still think you should hear it.
Having grown up in the 80's on what was considered thrash back then & then leaving the confines of metal to explore other genres, I never heard of Demolition Hammer or their 1992 masterpiece "Epidemic of Violence". And let me tell ya, did I miss out!
I got the remastered album a few years ago off Amazon & was blown away by the absolute blunt force & brutality of it. This album has everything I ever wanted from most of the "name" thrash bands in the 80's.
1. Absolutely heavy, thick & punishing guitar riffs with killer tone, killer solos & killer arrangements. The bass is not high in the mix so there really is no point in trying to review it other than it obviously adds to the low end & keeps the pulse for James Reilly, Derek Sykes & Vinny Daze. And speaking of the drums...
2. Double-kick out the ass. Though not being a name drummer, Vinny Daze punishes you for daring to listen to this beast. No, his fills aren't airy prog-metal affairs but he beats his kit to death! He ain't afraid to use the kicks (hey Lars, take notes ya wimp) & he beats the snare so badly it wouldn't surprise me if he had to put on a new head after every take. No frills, brutal drumming - just the way mama wanted it.
3. Steve Reynolds' vocals - I mean, what can I say? They are unlike most anything that was released up to that time in thrash metal. The acid-like inflection sounds like he drank gasoline before doing his takes. This IS what thrash vocals SHOULD sound like, not the girly, screechy rasp that most "modern" thrash bands pull today.
The first four songs are absolutely brutal...just brutal. After "Envenomed", we have "Carnivorous Obsession" which is more mid-paced heavy but doesn't really speed up 'til the guitar solo. Then we have "Orgy of Destruction" which is pointless in my opinion, not even a minute of what? An outtake?
Then we start to get back to it with the title track, "Epidemic of Violence", "Omnivore" & "Aborticide". They open the album strong & close strong. Nothing to it. A thrash metal classic.
This ain't for the kiddies. You mallcore kids may want to avoid this & stick with whatever shit is currently brOOtal for your sensitive little ears. Leave stuff like this to us adults who can handle it.
100% hands down, one of the best thrash metal albums of all time. If you don't have it, GET IT!
Last year I picked up Demolition Hammer's 'Tortured Existence', and was blown away at the technical brutal thrash assault, without a doubt, one of the best thrash debuts, all be it, a late one, but better late than never, so could they top that great first album with their sophomore release?
In all aspects, that answer for me is a big fucking YES, whereas 'Tortured Existence' was more just straight forward brutal thrash, this has more of a death/thrash sound, which is what they wanted to do, everything they did right on their first album, they did better here, the riffs are tighter, the solo's are nothing short of great, with some great use of a whammy bar, the drumming is very tight, lots of brutal doublebass, and awesome fills, Steve Reynolds is now one of my favorite thrash/death vocalists, sounding like a rabid beast spitting out words of destruction and gore at a menacing pace, and the production on this album is brilliant, it's brutal, thick, but not overproduced, but everything is heard great, no complaints at all.
The album starts off with 'Skull Fracturing Nightmare' which fades in, and then bang, brutal fast thrash riffs up the ass, and violent lyrics about, this song also has some great midpaced groovy breaks, that are nothing short of heavy as fuck, especially the outro riff, what a monster 'Human Dissection' is next and delivers a more midpaced approach throughout the song, starting with a great heavy riff, and Reynolds vocals come in, and it just flows so well, some excellent doublebass work is found here, and sick lyrics 'Pyroclastic Annihilation' is one of my favorites on the album, it is brutal from beginning to end, it's violent, thrashy, destructive, with some great catchy fast as fuck riffs, and great lyrics as well, I mean it's about a volcano, how cool is that?
I'll skip to 'Carivorous Obsession' this song is this albums answer to their debut albums 'Gelid Remains' song, with it's slow, very sabbath influenced riffing, and it's awesome, some heavy as fuck riffs that are just impossible to NOT headbang too, some great lyrics as well, especially if gorey lyrics are your thing, and it does speed up in parts for some nice change of tempo, with a shredding solo to follow, 'Epidemic of Violence' continues the fast thrash assault, starting with a fast as hell riff, and Reynolds comes in sounding rabid, lyrics? about beating the shit out of someone, sounds awesome to me, I mean, this is metal, I'll skip to the closer 'Aborticide' what a song they picked to close the album, lots of thrash albums get a bit weaker on the later tracks of the albums, but not this one, this one gets stronger, and this song proves it, this is a fast, catchy, violent, gore infested song with some great lyrics and great riffs and vocals as well, everything is awesome, with some nice tempo changes and solo's as well, what else can I say, Brilliance personified here.
I ended up buying this album a year after getting their debut, I'm so sorry that I waited that long, I really do regret that, if you liked their first, you will love this one, I sure did, this sits among my favorite thrash..or death/thrash albums, depending on your view, go out and buy this if you are a fan.
Face-melting, spine-wrecking, neck-snapping, bone-crunching, head-crushing, skull-fracturing, ass-kicking, gut-wrenching, mind-blowing … I could basically trot out all the tired clichés that are meant to explain just how hard something rocks and they would still go only halfway toward describing how insanely, utterly heavy this one is. Holy Toledo, I am even inclined to dub this the heaviest, most brutal pure thrash album ever recorded, and yes, I am familiar with the usual suspects such as Slayer’s Reign in Blood, Kreator’s Pleasure to Kill or Dark Angel’s Darkness Descends.
In all fairness, it must be said that Demolition Hammer certainly helped their cause by getting a top-notch production job that is leaps and bounds better than what Kreator, Dark Angel and, yes, even Slayer had to work with a couple of years earlier. Everything here sounds just perfectly crystal clear and extra crisp without ever appearing sterile or over-produced. If I absolutely had to pick a flaw, it would probably be that the bass could use a little more definition and that the drums are a little too high in the mix, which comes at the expense of the guitars, which in turn could use some more crunch here or there, but that’s basically just a whole lot of nitpicking.
Anyway, despite the positively stellar production, the fact remains that this just kicks things up a notch in terms of heaviness, speed, and brutality. I mean, listen to the faster parts (not that there are any particularly slow ones) in “Human Dissection” and “Envenomed,” among others, and tell me this doesn’t rip your face right off. I don’t by any means intend to say that Epidemic of Violence is better than the thrash milestones mentioned above – that’s a matter of personal preference and thus a moot point –, just that the shiny production job that renders every drum stroke and every riff clearly audible (something that is obviously not the case on, for instance, Darkness Descends) helps to make Demolition Hammer’s sophomore effort come across as even more brutal than some of its more widely lauded ancestors. I’m not talking about this being more extreme or even better, mind you, just more brutal. Anyhoo, what makes all this even more amazing is that Epidemic of Violence was released in 1992, in other words at a time when grunge and alternative ruled supreme and hardly anybody in the whole wide world seemed to give a rat’s ass about metal anymore, let alone thrash metal (I may be exaggerating, but you get the point).
Overall, the musical performance on this album is nearly flawless – the band plays as tight and precise as a piece of well-oiled machinery, even though they are not exactly masters of technicality or intricacy, eschewing subtlety and delicate detail for a rather basic meat-and-potatoes approach. The guitarists don’t pretend to be fretboard wizards but rather stick to what they do best, which is churning out riff after vicious riff and largely steering clear of any excess noodling other than throwing in the odd solo here or there. Vocalist Steve Reynolds’ shouts are pretty impressive as well, conjuring up images of some mentally deranged wino who’s about to get loaded only to have his booze taken from him – in other words, he sounds seriously pissed off and very menacing. Oh, and as far as the drums are concerned, Vinny Daze (R.I.P.) may very well be best drummer you’ve never heard of. Just like the guitarists he doesn’t necessarily wow you with finesse and exotic timing patterns, but he can seemingly hit his snare faster than a machine gun spews forth bullets, temporarily pummeling you with his double bass (the beginning of “Human Dissection” would be a fine example) before continuing to hammer his kit to kingdom come and then returning for even more mayhem.
So, why not give this an ever higher rating, you ask? Well, because heaviness and brutality are obviously not the only ingredients needed to create a great album. There are times when Epidemic of Violence gets a bit one-dimensional and just rushes by you at light speed. Some more hooks and solos as well as a few subtly melodic touches in the guitar department would have gone a long way to make this more memorable, but Demolition Hammer apparently opted to remain in all-out skull-smashing mode all the time, and more power to them – they may not win any prizes for virtuosity, but they have secured a place in the metal hall of fame as one of the heaviest thrash outfits, perhaps even THE heaviest thrash outfit of all time. That’s quite a feat, if you ask me.
Choicest cuts: Skull Fracturing Nightmare (you gotta love songs about barbaric torture devices), Pyroclastic Annihilation (effective gang shouts and well-researched lyrics about volcanic activity make this the song of choice for all you geographers out there), Carnivorous Obsession (its double-bass laden blunt-force approach comes as a welcome change of pace in between all the insane shredding), Omnivore (borders on death metal at times and features some of the most memorable riffs on the album), Aborticide (fittingly bids you farewell by punching you in the face a couple more times)
This album is heavier that the densest star in the universe. It is like a tank that pulverizes everything in site, takes no prisoners, and leaves ruptured ear drums in its wake. This album is like getting hit by a wall of sound that will just not let up. That’s everything too; vocals, guitar, bass, and most of all the drums.
Steve Reynolds sounds like a demented madman as he spews forth a devastating sonic assault. His vocals are extremely heavy, but not like a death metal vocalist’s guttural sounds. Reynolds’ vocals sound like nothing else I’ve ever heard, but intense would be the best way to describe the sound. He has such a thick and powerful scream that perfectly complements this album.
The guitars and bass of this album are also incredibly heavy, and have a tone that could level small armies. This album is a veritable riff fest that that varies from slower tempo skull smashers to lightening fast riffs that cut through the listener. There are several points in this album that are absolutely devastating. The closing of the opening track Skull Fracturing Nightmare is crushing, and then you have Pyroclastic Annihilation which destroys the listener when it reaches the 1:57 mark.
Next we get the utterly unbelievable drumming from Vinny Daze. The man is completely insane, and his drumming will take no prisoners. What scary is not even the fact that his drumming can hit sledge hammer and sound like a machine gun, but that even at slower tempos he still manages to maintain an unbelievably heavy sound. So its not just him pounding away at the same boring tempo he manages to alternate the drum speed quite nicely. The track that really shows off his abilities would probably be the final track Aborticide. The man was amazing, and it truly is a shame that he such an untimely death due to blowfish poisoning.
Overall if you’re a fan of incredibly heavy thrash metal this album is one that you must own. Everything comes together quite nicely on this album, and makes this an incredibly intense experience. Again, this album is definitely recommended for fans of extreme thrash metal.
“Epidemic of Violence” has production like a trigger-happy machine gun; drums are blasting like speeding ammunition, Steve Reynolds is barking like a rabid hyena, and guitars are shredding like an average Kerry King imitator. Well, one major problem from their debut has been resolved.
The songwriting is much improved from their last effort. “Skull Fracturing Nightmare” and “Human Dissection” form a downright vicious start to this violent collection of thrash metal songs. The album starts off really sharp, but begins to dull around the fifth track.
The bridges are still overlong. These should mostly be 3 to 4 minute thrashers, but a majority run over 5. Over half of a typical number is focused on these collections of descent riffs that construct the middle of each song, which gets very formulaic and eventually boring.
Unless hyper-speed percussion can keep your jaw on the floor for 40 minutes, you’ll probably find a good deal of the music unexciting. I’ve listened to “Carnivorous Obsession” and “Omnivore” repeatedly, but each time I end up tapping on my walkman’s timer halfway through. These solos are so bland, and sound like an afterthought. There is no creativity or memorability in the lead guitar, besides an occasional adrenalin-rush-eliciting pinch harmonic; most could just be removed. At least the tedious bridges would be shorter.
This is worth hearing for the sake of maybe 4 compositions. I will confess, “Aborticide” is pretty sick both riff-wise and lyrically. It’s a shame Demolition Hammer never topped “.44 Caliber Brain Surgery," though.
I really liked Demolition Hammer's Tortured Existence, and thought that it would be hard to top, until I heard this mean slab of New York thrash. Everything from Tortured Existence is back, after being shot up with performance enhancing steroids, rabies, angel dust, and fed mass quantities of extra rare lamb chops. This music sounds more threatening than 99.9% of all death and black metal bands out there, and it's all based on riffage, rather than atmosphere.
Once again, Vinny Daze slaughters the populations of small African nations in single songs with his downright catastrophic drumming. I honestly don't know what it is about this guy's style, because it just sounds angry. His fast stuff, especially "Aborticide," is nastier than most blasting death metal drummers, but its the slower sections, where Vinny works in exceptionally wicked bass drum work to provide an added backbone to the ridiculously brutal riffage. Take "Human Dissection," just that opening riff alone is enough to crush mountains, but when coupled with the choice change ups, you are really thrown ass first into the Hurricane Katrina of metal nightmares from which there is no escape.
Fuck, this really does live up to its title of Epidemic of Violence. Even the titles and lyrics push the envelope even further, which give it a nearly death metal quality.
"Skull Fracturing Nightmare" has this nasty pummeling 1-2 fast riff that gives way to even faster riffs, before the eye of the storm hits with a devastating half time breakdown, followed by an evolving change up of angry riffs as it builds up back into the fray, before being finally spitting you out the ass end into a devastated wasteland. Shit, that's exactly how this song feels.
"Pyroclastic Annihilation" has to be the coolest title ever for a metal song, but the song itself is even better. The riffage here is a bit of a strangely timed thing, that works surprisingly well coupled with the bass drums and Steve's corrosive vocals. "Envenomed" is quite a bit faster, with the bass drums going full blast throughout the, and though the song slows down slightly, it never fucking lets up. "Carnivorous Obsession" may feature some of Demolition Hammer's slowest material, but it they still bring out the maximum amount of violence in every note. The verses of this song are bonecrushingly heavy.
They got some better production, this time at some studio in Rhode Island, which was probably reduced to ashes after this album was made. The production isn't typical death or thrash metal, but quite a bit drier, especially when compared to Tortured Existence. There is pretty much no compression on the sound, so just when you think these guys can't get any more in your face, it's like they hit the nitrous and really kick things up a notch, to 11 and far beyond. The snare, the snarled vocals, and the riffs really pierce your ears, although they somewhat foresake the bass.
The solos on here a lot more memorable, whereas on the first album, they were just there. We don't have any long, epic soloing, but really brief ones, that reach out and deliver an unexpected blow to some unprotected part of your ears.
This should be required listening for all thrash and death metal fans. But beware! I've heard of this album spotaneously disemboweling a carload of teenage Dragonforce fans, and one female Korn fan vomited her internal organs after being exposed to 20 seconds of "Skull Fracturing Nightmare."
Demoltion Hammer's second album was everything the first one was, only better. The overall sound is better, the riffs are better, drums are better, etc. While the first album had that old school death metal production, this one is cleaner and more thrashy. The riffs are even more lethal than before, and the songs are just as frantic while at the same time sounding more precise and controlled(if that makes any sense.) Really the only bad thing I have to say about the production on this album, is that the bass is inaudible just like it was on their first release.
The bands style hasn't changed at all, they just seem to be a little better at it. All though there are more Bay Area style breakdowns found on this one, which is great because I love that shit. Lots of awesome bang your fucking head and pump your fist while making a stupid looking mean face moments. Really some of the most intense headbanging moments I can think of are found on this album. When you just wanna thrash out and break shit, it doesn't get much better than this. They are still throwing in lots of unnecessary Kerry King solos though, which I could do without.
A good example of the lethal breakdown that these guys are good at is found on opener "Skull Fracturing Nightmare" at about the 1:33 mark. A wanking solo leads into a brutal fucking riff, and it just comes together so perfectly. Their singer barks out with pure aggression "Sacrificing lives with apathy, torturing their captives ruthlessly!" Whoah, that is bad-fucking-ass! The following song "Human Dissection" starts off with a similar bang your head until your neck snaps type of riff. The drums beat at double time while the riffs are mid paced creating a pounding effect. "Pyroclastic Annihiliation" is more of the same, incredibly heavy sounding verses that sound like they were made to insight gigantic mosh pits. A nice down-stroked riff at 1:57 that quickly leads right back into the menacing verse. The title track is killer, it reminds me of ".44 Caliber Brain Surgery" from their first album. Another killer breakdown is found in "Omnivore" at about 1:15. "Aborticide" is ridiculously fast but manages to still be catchy.
Really, every song on the album is excellent. Most people would say thrash died around '90 or '91, and I would agree, so I guess it's ironic that one of the best thrash albums ever came out in '92. You will be hard pressed to find an album "heavier" than this. Even many years after I first heard this, after hearing tons of brutal death metal, blazing speed metal, raw black metal, etc. I still say this is the heaviest album ever, period.
Here we are with Demolition Hammer's second album, Epidemic of Violence. It might not be crushing riff-o-rama Tortured Existence was, but the songs are catchier and there's more variety (something the band desperately needed). If I had to take one of the two with me on a desert island it would certainly be Epidemic of Violence, although I love them both. There's still a bit of unrealised potential here, but considering the period it was made in I can't really criticise the album on anything.
The band throws most of their Motorhead influences out the window on this one, bringing in some more homegrown Bay Area/Teutonic thrash influences. "Envenomed" is a very Dark Angel sounding song that wouldn't have looked out of place on Darkness Descends, while the title track "Epidemic of Violence" is pure Sepultura. The band is getting their shit together from a songwriting perspective, too, focusing more on writing cohesive, memorable songs rather than cramming as many riffs into as few measures as possible (with that said, there are still more riffs on this album then some thrash bands write in their entire careers).
The musicianship is still top-notch. Now that Vinny Daze's drums have more prominence in the mix, you realise just what an brilliant skinsman he was. Listen to his double-bass on "Human Dissection", and his snare blasts on "Epidemic of Violence". The man was fucking fast. Sykes and Reilly are skilled shredders as usual, always finding room in a given song for at least one duelling guitar solo section. And Reynolds continues to be one of the most disgusting thrash vocalists I've ever heard, sounding like a cancerous, 80 year old asbestos worker with drain cleaner poured down his throat.
The album opens with "Skull Fracturing Nightmare", a BRUTAL thrasher with fast riffing and a crazy breakdown. From this song you can see that the band has not even lost the top off their energy and skill. The song's crushing tempo is carried over to most of the album's tracks. With few exceptions, Epidemic of Violence is a speed assault that rarely slows down.
"Omnivore" is a slaying Kreator tribute with some vague yet disturbing lyrics. The only interpretation I can think of is being raped by a dinosaur. Some nice tempo changes on this one. "Pyroclastic Annihilation" is lots of fun, with countless fast parts, breakdowns, and fat grooves. It's probably the most immediately catchy and recognisable track on the album. The prize for best riff, however, goes to the closing track "Aborticide". The song cooks nicely until 1:30, at which point we get an amazing whiplash-inducing mosh part. Sadly, since it's at the end of the album you'll probably be too numb to to notice.
Ultimately, you can't go wrong with this album. The early 90s were a mostly depressing story as far as thrash goes, but Demolition Hammer, god bless 'em, were willing to slap a ho for what's right and keep the thrash alive! The album is sad in a way, because it's the last release the band would have with a steady lineup. Reynolds and Sykes had planned to close the coffin lid on Demolition Hammer with this album, and it probably would have been best if they had done so. Don't bother with the band's final album Time Bomb, the Demolition Hammer story ends HERE.
Favourite tracks: "Skull Fracturing Nightmare", "Pyroclastic Annihilation", "Aborticide"
Certian music can trigger certian emotions, moods, thoughts, etc. This is nothing new. But Demolition Hammer's "Epidemic Of Violence" will strike a nerve in the frail peaceful human psyche and turn him into a violent madman hellbent on obscene acts of terror.
Demolition Hammer is one of the few handful of Thrash Metal bands that managed to properly take thrash metal to the next extreme as far as making it way more lethal, more venomous, more hateful, and a fuckload more psychotic. Imagine an army of M-16 A2 carbine rifle tigger-happy Norse berserkers foaming at the mouth with eyes bloodshot from the adrenerline of the will to exterminate all life on this planet. God is scared shitless of these fucks and Satan is too much of a pussy to contain these bastards. This is how downright vicious Demolition Hammer is.
DH put out a handful of demos and a full-length album that hinted som REALLY FUCKING GOOD Thrash in the vein of a cocain-frenzy-style Dark Angel. "Epidemic Of Violence" just shows what one is able to do in the height of that speed-induced mania. Guitarist/'riot vocals' James Reilly is excellent in spewing forth raw schizophrenic-style Thrash metal vocals. Derek Sykes and Steve Reynolds hold him back with excellent leads and riffs that will make one lose their mind and want to explode into a rage and start tearing everything up in sight....but Vinny Daze...Vinny, Vinny, Vinny...this motherfucker sounds like he just got off the front lines with the Airbourne Rangers. His drumming is top-notch, precise, and sounds like a SAW going off next your ear without pugs. Remember the ending scenes from the Rambo series where Stallone snaps and starts shotting everything up in sight? That's exactly what Vinny does. Total fucking devastation. No survivors left.
The lyrical content ranges from natural disasters(Pyroclastic Annihilation), medical examinations(Human Dissection), medieval forms of torture(Skull Fracturing Nightmare), and even fucking dinosaurs(Omnivore). James really knocked every last one of these out of the park lyrically at such a high-speed ferocity. Nothing lame, or weak....these lyrics just stire the imagination with such vivid images of gore. Not that wigger-esque, misogynistic slam/groove Death metal "I fucked your pussy than stabbed you in the mouth" bullshit....no this is the graphic details with a college vocabulary level. I praise you James for using intelligence over stupidity.
Unfortunately.....after this album, the band went downhill. This was probably the all-time best Thrash Metal that went unoticed. Along with Winscosin maniacs Morbid Saint, Sweden's satanists Merciless, and even the Bay Area schizo's Vio-lence....Demolition Hammer crafted such an album that is a beautiful gem of lethal fucking Thrash Metal. If you find a copy of this, fuck everything else and pick this up immediately so you can plan out how to properly show the world how fucking batshit crazy you are.
HUMAN DISSECTION OF SKELETAL REMAINS, POST MORTEM NECROPSY VICTIM!!!!!!!
Ever heard of the ontological argument for the existence of god? : "God is the most perfect thing and since he would be even more perfect had he existed, so he exists." While that is a bad attempt at logic proof and fails miserably, it is true for heaviness. The most heavy thing imaginable would be even heavier if it exists, and thus exists! And it's name has been dubbed Epidemic of Violence.
This is ultimate heaviness incarnate into sound. Gravity of Earth doesn't come close to it. In fact, this album is so heavy that Earth orbits around this album! This is heavier than a neutron star. It's heavier than a black hole, and its gravitational force actually pulls a black hole and absorbs it. Fuck Suffocation, fuck Disgorge, Torsofuck, or any of your "sick" brutal death metal band. This crushes everything, just by its sheer heaviness that weighs 6.66 X 10^666 megatons.
So what exactly is so heavy about it? Everything. Vocals, production, riffs,... and DRUMS.
First of all we get the vocals. Yeah, the heaviest vocals in our galaxy. The extreme hatred they spew out matches that of Mutiilation(okay, not quite, but the fact that a comparison can be drawn at all is saying a lot), and the thickness of voice is almost Dio-thick. Yes, imagine Dio in harsh vocals. And, the important part is that, the vocals never cross the border of death metal. They're clearly thrash, and yet heavier than any brutal growler.
Let's see the guitar work. This is not a sophisticated tech-progressive thrash, and so the riffs remain fairly simple. However, they are heavy as fuck. The "simple" riffs do a far good job in contributing to the overall weight of the music than any complicated riff can. The guitar tone is also thick as a brick. No, thick as an iron wall, since Demoiltion Hammer is far, far thicker than Jethro Tull. The guitar solos show that even solos can be heavy. Heavy tone, combined with the tremolo arm generates the heaviest sound possible in the realm of treble.
But the best part, I mean the [i]heaviest[/i] part, is the drum work. Incessant double bass blast beats that sodomize Marduk and sacrifice it in the summit of the Tower of Babylon. The production is extremely bass-heavy, which is perfect for listening to the bass drums. Listen to Human Dissection, the best double bass drumming ever in the history of drumming. It literally sounds like an earthquake. However, the bass drums are not the only thing that's uber heavy. Snare drums are also a very important contributor to heaviness, weighing but a several megatons less than the bass drums do. The snare ton is the ultimate antithesis of St. Anger, and this is saying a lot, because the exact opposite of ultimate suckage means ultimate ownage.
If you're a fan of heavy fucking metal, you've got to listen to the heaviest fucking metal. And this is it.
Besides two Pantera albums and the band Exhorder (which incorporated small hints of groove rhythms sparingly), the groove metal movement in the early 90’s was an embarrassment to the heavy metal community. Not only was it the watered-down and half-baked cumbersome relative of thrash, but it gave birth to an even more preposterous genre: nu-metal. Veterans of metal across the globe wept at this calamitous new undertaking as they were forced to listen as phrases such as “I like my music heavy, that’s why I listen to metal like Mudvayne” snaked their way out of a mouth of a generation poisoned by a repulsive and obnoxious inbred form of music.
Before falling victim to the bastardized ways of groove and nu-metal, Demolition Hammer was nothing less than a bulldozer of a band. Fronted by rabid bassist and vocalist Steve Reynolds, “Epidemic of Violence” offers no new gimmicks, nor does it throw unexpected punches; it’s just an unequivocal offering of concentrated extreme thrash. From the moment the first few riffs from guitarists James Reilly and Derek Sykes hit the ear, there’s no confusion as to the direction of the album. Reilly and Sykes partner up to create a salvo of savage riffs, and these two aren’t just mindless goons claiming to be thrash guitarists, they are professionals. There’s influence drawn from death metal, which administers a more remorseless tone throughout their work. Nothing is slow-paced either, with the speed of “Skull Fracturing Nightmare” finishing off hand-in-hand with the berserker track “Aborticide”.
There's no room for mercy on “Epidemic of Violence”. Steve sets the tone on “Human Dissection” by screeching out “Delivered in a body bag / Cryptic frigid vault / Brandishing a toe tag”. Never mind moments that are meant to catch your breath, “Epidemic of Violence” pounces straight for the kill. Drummer Vinny Daze sounds like an M60 gunner behind his kit, with his double-bass hardly stopping its decimating power. As he fluently supports Reilly and Sykes, Armageddon begins, since together they sound as evil as a rusted chainsaw screaming for blood. There's no deviation from the typical thrash structure of brash palm-mutes, and while Reilly and Sykes may come close to a complete overkill of this ideal, its overlooked by the prowess of which they are delivered devastatingly on "Omnivore" and "Human Dissection". When middle tracks like “Envenomed” and the title track hurl themselves out into the open, your head will still be spinning from the attack you received earlier from “Skull Fracturing Nightmare” and “Pyroclastic Annihilation”. That, however, is the albums only downfall because once you’ve gotten halfway through, it’s likely that you’ll be too bruised and sore to notice anything new developing, which is shame since the closer “Aborticide” is a thrash treat, laced with bone-searing riffs and topped by lunatic vocals.
In the end, “Epidemic of Violence” is like standing in a ring with nine boxers. Every time you get punched in the face, you spin around hoping to find some sort of alleviation, only to get slammed again. For those unfortunate few who will find this too repetitive, pity is in store for you. Demolition Hammer produced two of thrash’s finest in the 90’s, and “Epidemic of Violence” is a mammoth of brutal proportions that many will find their twisted solace in.
Few thrash CDs can be truly labelled as "brutal". Among these, we have the classics we all know and love: The "Unholy Trinity" (Darkness Descends, Pleasure to Kill and Reign in Blood), the latest Torture Squad CD (it doesn't matter if it's not from 1986, it's just a freaking brutal slice of death/thrash) and this forgotten gem. Yes, Demolition Hammer is not as appreciated as the more well-known bands, but I can assure you this CD does give the classics a run for their money.
This is some brutal stuff. As someone said in some review (I can't remember which), it's brutal, not "br00tul". All of the instruments rage, except by the bass virtually inaudible, except for some little fills here and there. The drumming is very precise and mostly fast, except for one track, and the vocals complete the sense of destruction of the songs (if you didn't notice, this CD is called "Epidemic of Violence")
It does make justice to its title. The rhythm guitarwork is godlike. Lots of variation on the riffing style, whose speed ranges from medium ("Orgy of Destruction"'s first riffs, for example) to really mother****ing fast (at 2:09 from "Omnivore"). There is also some palm muting scattered all around and even some death metal styled riffs, not exactly like Vader's morbid tone (the first track of their "Reign Forever World" EP), but listen to the riff at 4:23, from the third track and then let's talk. The lead guitar is also very efficient. The soloing is classic thrash, very fast and sometimes melodic. "Pyroclastic Annihilation" 's (third song) solo is worthy of note, it's nailed very well, and damn cool to listen to, and this is what matters. There are other great solos all around, like that one from the title track.
The drumming. I LOVE this guy. You will notice the huge variety of drum patterns used. He also can play fast. Go listen to 1:26 at the sixth track. That was almost 260 bpm! His speed is mostly fast, but he also slows down on the occasion, adding double bass strings, to create the "bludgeoning" feel. There is no blasting here. Did I mention he has lots of drum patterns?
The vocals are good too. The voice here is throaty, but perfectly intelligible. Sometimes, there are also good vocal lines and choruses ("Aborticide" and the title track), and it sounds very aggressive.
In a way or another, all of the songs are memorable. The songwriting is not linear "verse-chorus-verse-solo-chorus x 10" style. There are lots of time changes (Pyroclastic Annihilation), great breaks (Envenomed) and catchiness (Epidemic of Violence, my favorite song here) to make things even better. Almost all songs are played at breakneck speed, except by the fifth one, "Carnivorous Obssession". The song is mostly midpaced (although at 1:26 it goes almost Darkness Descends speeed, for short time), getting a bit faster by the end. Each song has numberless riffs, but if you really want me to point out highlights, I'd choose "Pyroclastic Annihilation", "Skull Fracturing Nightmare" (heh, great song title) and of course, the over catchy title track.
Go find this one now. If you like thrash, you will love it from the first listen, and won't be shy about mentioning it among the likes of Pleasure to Kill.
For 1992, this is pretty fucking excellent. That was the year thrash pretty much dropped off the map... after Heathen and Horrorscope, we were stuck with just Stormrider and the Soviets, for all intents and purposes. Well, Demolition Hammer are a bit behind the times, and more power to them!!! Their answer to 1993, Time Bomb, would come in 1994 and suck the mighty suck. But, for now, they are ruling in a decent manner. The first two songs are competent, and then they make way for the rest of the album, which kicks it up another notch - it's as though the first two were recorded while they were sedated - then, we have a monster riff-o-rama come out of nowhere.
This is some pretty brutal thrash - initially, a bit limited in the riff-variety department, and then somewhere the lightbulb goes on, and the neck is snapped. We start with "Skull Fracturing Nightmare", which pretty much goes through two main riff styles - a really fast Raining-Blood style riff, combined with something a bit less fast, and a bit more vio-lent, if you get my drift. The vocals are pretty good - somehow, Aussies tend to make good thrash vocalists (see also: Mortal Sin). Then, a thrash break around 4.30 in to another monster of a riff that closes the song in a "Beneath the Remains" style. Very nice.
"Human Dissection" - the drums are a bit more in the foreground of the mix - a steady double-bass combines with a suffocating Devastation/Dark Angel guitar tone. Just about the same riff is milked for the next minute or so, before the song speeds up a bit, the drum pattern changes... there are about three or four different riff styles in this song. Not VERY different, like for example a "From the Past Comes the Storms", but nonetheless sufficiently so to maintain interest, especially given what is about to come next.
"Pyroclastic Annihilation" sounds almost like a different album in the tone - cleaner, less bassy, still pretty damn brutal, but not quite as heavy. Also, the riff construction is totally different... an overt thrash break at 1:58, and in general a whole lot more riff variety in this one than the last two songs. About five major riff changes, a total of 20-30 riffs. This is so far the highlight of the album. If you like "Beneath the Remains", you will definitely like this. Fast, interesting, THRAASHH!! Some pretty competent lead guitar helps as well.
Then "Envenomed" takes us to some Kreator worship - it's like these guys are giving thrash school, they tend to be covering all the bases, especially with the slightly slowed-down interval for a few seconds at around 1:17, which sounds very much like it could have been on Extreme Aggression or Terrible Certainty. The rest... bang, bang, BANG! Whiplash-inducing thrash mania.
"Carnivorous Obsession" is a bit heavier again - the production goes up and down on this one, seriously. It's still highly enjoyable - it's not like an Iced Earth album where we alternate between thrash and ballads... here, you get to choose if the brick comes from the side into your temple, or just down straight into your forehead. Pick one! Nice thrash break at 2:48. Again, if you like any of the 80s thrash staples, this will not be at all out of the question. This one actually gets slower as it goes on (except for the final riff set, which is a reprise of the beginning), with stuff close to the end consisting of some efficient-speed stuff derived from Kreator.
"Orgy of Destruction" is 51 seconds long and sounds like random riffs left over. Apparently they didn't know where they were going, so they stopped before they went to suck. Good decision.
Then, the title track - another blazingly fast number, from the Reign in Blood school of thought, especially with the slight slowing down, and then speeding up again, a la another track with the word Epidemic in it. Then, a variety of cool riffs mark the middle to the end of the song. Song structures are pretty free-form in that they sometimes revisit previous riffs, and sometimes not - there are no really overt "two verses, middle part, another verse" style songs.
"Omnivore" is another German-sounding track, harkening to old Kreator (Pleasure era) or even Destruction (Eternal Devastation), with a break coming at around 1:15 that is definitely of the Germanic style. The final riff set is a mix of that and more Slayer-styled riffs. Overall, another very excellent track. This album is probably not meant to be taken on a track-by-track basis, but rather as an album-long onslaught of brutality - sorta like a Coma of Souls or a Beneath the Remains.
Finally, we get to "Aborticide", which is pretty much the review before the final exam. First some "Pleasure to Kill" ideas, with a little bit of Postmortem thrown in. Finally, at around 1:32 in we get a most overt Sepultura-esque riff - this one harking back to the From the Past Comes the Storms days - this is THE riff of the entire album. 31 seconds of pure fucking headbanging mayhem. WHAM! WHAM! WHAM!!! Beavis is bleeding!!! The riffs after that are very excellent too, with a total monster coming in at around 2.49, carrying the song for the next minute or so... I hear a bit more Slayer, some more Kreator, even some Vio-lence. The riffs ate my homework.
Wholeheartedly recommended. Best tracks: the whole damn thing, from beginning to end.