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Let me be honest with everyone. First time I’ve heard about HAIL OF BULLETS and read the names of the musicians that participate in this project I felt the saliva dropping out of my mouth with bloody hunger. Come on! Martin van Drunen is coming back to the scene and will do new album; years after his participation in ASPHYX (now I know he sang later also in band called DEATH BY DAWN in the 2000’s and even did one album with them – although I’ve never had a chance to listen to it). Martin was – still is – one of my favourite growlers of all times! What’s more HAIL OF BULLETS is a “dream team” of Dutch death metal as it also has their best drummer Ed Warby from GOREFEST in the line up and Stephan Gebedi from wonderful THANATOS. Not to mention Theo from HOUWITSER and Paul from CEREMONY (now in ASPHYX!!!!!!! Hail man!)… Isn’t that a great line up? The only thing I can think of that would probably beat it is if the Swedish guys formed their own death metal “all stars” project. But you never know…
Anyway, I feel absolutely slaughtered by HAIL OF BULLETS. From the very first second of the opening “General Winter” I had two things in my mind – one was that this band really reminds me the mighty ASPHYX and the other one was: I WANT TO BANG MY DAMN SKULL!!!!! This comparison to ASPHYX is mostly due to Martin’s vocals I guess, but also the riffing is pretty close to what ASPHYX did on their “On the Wings of Inferno” LP for instance. And my thoughts about crushing everything around and maniacally banging the head are all due to the enormous energy, feeling and aggression this music brings.
The slow, massive opening riffs of “General Winter” simply blow away; the alarm resounds in the back and the chills go down my body; what a great stuff. But this is what I like most in death metal – if it comes with the feeling, intense, shredding playing and a bit of melody… not too complicated, but something what will stick in my head immediately. Here each song if fulfilled with devastating guitar parts, thundering drums and raspy vocals of Martin. And I just want to mosh! The music is excellent; who cares if it isn’t innovating as that’s not what HAIL OF BULLETS intended to do (let me reminds you it's supposed to be a tribute to the od legendary bands!). It is totally straight forward, even when the band plays some slower parts it still seems to be damn heavy and brutal. Surely “Ordered Eastward” is the best song here as its marching riffing reminds me BOLT THROWER’s wonderful “Those Once Loyal” LP. But generally I love all four tracks equally. Mind that despite the fact that it was just a promotional recording, it doesn’t sound like a demo, but totally professional, strong death metal release. To me, with this material, a new death metal force has been born.
You school Death Metal? That's what you get here. This is quite the little demo. The production on it is very good, album quality. The riffs come through very powerfully. You won't see any blasts here. Old school drumming on here as on the early Death records or like Celtic Frost. Martin sounds as hoarse ever and the guitar tone is very bass heavy.
We start with General Winter which is actually a slower song. The opening with the siren is quite cool. Think of soldiers trudging through the snow, that's the pace of this song. Then the break in the middle with some faster riffs that sound as if they could have been on The Rack. A Very Asphyx-ish song. Good stuff.
Red Wolves of Stalin is more midpaced, with some contrasting slower parts and a break in the middle which could have been a fast part on Scream Bloody Gore. Again, reminds me of early Asphyx.
Ordered Eastward is by far the catchiest and memorable song. The opening riff set is fucking incredibly heavy. That leads into some faster riffs which make you think of Consuming Impulse. Then counterpoint with a slower break, some subtle melody and some deeper growls by Martin. Then right back into the fast stuff. Catchy chorus, definitely giving off a Pestilence vibe.
Advancing Once More has some Left Hand Path riffing in it, but of course doesn't have that Swedish DM fuzz tone. This song is probably the fastest overall. Then a dissonant outro.
One word to describe this: HEAVY.
If you like old Asphyx, Pestilence, Death, or some of the old stuff from Sweden this should be right up your alley. You''ll hear this and I'm sure get anxious for the full length as well.