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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.