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Shiny debut from recent death metal band Hail of Bullets, "...Of Frost And War" might just be what it feels like to be run over by a Tiger tank as drummer Ed Warby claims. A crushing atmosphere of hopelessness and despair permeates every track on this album while faithfully invoking the classic sounds of Bolt Thrower, Death, and Celtic Frost.
A nice interplay of the furiously fast and the morbidly slow is what makes this album so great. Imperialistic percussions order you to march. Their orders are soon cut down by slower sections emblematic of the ultimate futility of war. It's a strange harmony of opposites that blends and transitions beautifully.
Guitar sections are superb overall. Excellent leads tie things together in most songs. Simple riffs do their job well. Few bands can play the same chords over and over again without making them sound repetitious. Your attention never drifts.
One thing that took some getting used to was van Drunen's vocal style. In most songs, it's a very harsh, agonizing, and terrified sounding wail. I've never heard anything quite like it before. Thankfully, the guitars usually overpower these sections so his unusual style doesn't feel as though it's cramping the music. At times this works, and at others it's just plain annoying. In songs like Stalingrad or Red Wolves of Stalin, his voice really captures the horror of war and the hopelessness that tends to accompany it. He has the tendency to sound like one of the panicking soldiers at the front, and it really helps capture you in the moment. On other tracks, he intones a more traditional guttural shout that makes the classic death metal sound stand out even more.
Despite the minor vocal abnormalities which demand some getting used to, "...Of Frost and War" is a superb debut from some very talented guys. Give it a listen before you decide to pick it up to see what I mean about the vocals. I have the feeling I will be enjoying this one for a very long time.
Originally posted on my blog: http://metalexnihilo.blogspot.com