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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"