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Poland's Ragehammer don't waste time, having existed only for a short period of time before unleashing their beastly debut demo "War Hawks". If anything is black/thrash it's Ragehammer, and their lyrics deal with somewhat standard metal subjects like hate, war and religious hipocrisy. However they aren't as such the usual kind of black/thrash Bathory/Venom/Deströyer 666/Desaster clone stuff as they've left room for some pseudo-hardcore based riffs and grindy d-beats which definitely underlines the entire sound of Ragehammer.
Ragehammer immediately assail the ears of the hapless victims listening to War Hawks for the first time. Not knowing what to expect, Ragehammer Rising pounds your eardrums with totally unhinged, maniacal vocals, and the demo is mixed loud as fuck, so you don't even have to turn up your stereo to get fucked. Talk about convenience. There is constantly stuff going on in multiple layers. It's a demanding yet rewarding listening experience in the sense that the band's music is mostly high speed high intensity stuff. Ragehammer have a way of piecing together a song to have a high amount of momentum and energy, never leaving a dull moment even when they slow things down. An example of this is when the second song tunes in. Prophet of Genocide is a song that contrasts strongly to the fast-paced brutality of the first track, Ragehammer Rising, by having a much slower pace and a heavier gait. This track in particular slows things down to a more deliberate heavy-black kind of deal more akin to modern Darkthrone, barring Underground Resistance.
There seems to be a pattern on the War Hawks demo. It seems there's more or less a fast song for every slow song, and that these alternate. It's a surprisingly good way of keeping things interesting, and while the menacing sounds of The Wolfpack as such isn't exactly crawling in tempo it still has a higher capacity for calculated evil rather than the "usual" chaotic approach that Ragehammer takes.
This completely unrelenting, fast as fuck style of black/thrash works well for getting you worked up and ready to go, and it can generally be said for War Hawks that whatever Ragehammer are doing, they're doing it well.Feeling like relaxing with some rockin' tunes where you can sing along to the chorus? Get the fuck outta here, Ragehammer is NOT for you.
Originally posted on http://gouls-crypt.blogspot.com/
Despite black/thrash metal horde Ragehammer‘s Polish origins, on their debut demo release War Hawks the band presents a sound that sticks rather close to their Swedish counterparts instead.
The band blazes full speed ahead right from the opener RageHammer Rising, and one is quickly reminded of such bands as Bestial Mockery or Kult ov Azazel in their speed and intensity, and the catchiness that is abound in their brand of black/thrash metal. The riffing style of Bestial Avenger on the track even brings in some slight influence from Bathory‘s earlier works, though the band has certainly put in more groove on their works, making for a thrashin’ good time. The lead guitars are also brilliant, giving a nice old school rock and roll flavour to the songs.
Drummer Mortar’s d-beat style of drumming certainly helps in the band’s cause, providing much of the energy and helping Ragehammer sound like a blackened version of old school Swedish death metal, while Heretik Hellstorm’s spiteful vocals give it a nice aggressive and sinister edge. Clean vocals are also used sparingly throughout the release, such as on Prophet of Genocide to provide a somewhat dramatic effect, leaving a more lasting impression on the listener.
Yet not all is fast and furious as Ragehammer presents a slight slowdown on the intro of Prophet of Genocide, and moments like these bring in a slight Marduk comparison in the ominous vibe that is emanated, though this was my least favourite moment on War Hawks. That said though, for the most part the band goes at breakneck speed, making War Hawks one hell of an album to headbang or mosh to.
I hate to admit it, but I feel like the past few years are starting to see an over saturation of the blackened/thrash niche. It's getting to the point at which I almost dread hearing the things, because for every Antichrist level gem (Forbidden World) you're going to get dozens of drawling, derivative enticements to faux-Satanism that are pretty much intellectual and compositional clones of worshiped influences: Venom, Possessed, Slayer, Sodom, Bathory, and so forth. Poland's Ragehammer might be pretty easy to write off as just another in this endless tirade, but I do feel that the band has some promise on their War Hawks demo which seems to spare them from the tired, crass redundancy. In short: while these guys are hardly something to get excited over, they at least endow the five tracks here with some variety and genuine enthusiasm which would be criminal to ignore.
At times, I was almost reminded of a more raw, bulldozing version of the first few Witchery albums, back when the group was blood thirsty, riff hungry and invigorating. The vocalist Heretik Hellstörm is not unlike a Toxine if you took the reins off and let the guy blare through the mix. While at times the feral snarls climb over the top a little too far, this uncompromising and unhinged approach to the blackened vocal aesthetic injects a lot of vibrant energy. I actually preferred his lower register growl in "The Wolfpack" which was almost like a grittier, growling evolution of Snake from the old Voivod records. The riffing isn't too shabby either, whether they are laying out some savage speed metal licks somewhere between Jeff Hanneman, Patrik Jensen and Mantas ("RageHammer Rising"), a more directly driving and punk fused chord progression ("Prophet of Genocide") or a surprising level of melodic tremolo picking ("The Wolfpack"), they aren't ever really duplicating themselves on any two cuts here, though certainly they could push this variation further.
The bass is fluid, pumping and constant, and they also use a lot of machine gun double kick drums to keep the music in line with the more modern extremities of contemporary death and black metal (the latter of which they occasionally tackle head on). Though the other instruments and vocals were always clear and raw through the mix, I did feel that the drums were a little too brazen and brick-like, laid on a little too thick. Not to the point where they become a serious detriment, but their ever present thundering does detract a bit of the nuance that might otherwise be experienced through the bass and guitars. Also, while there are 4-5 sweet licks through the demo, the rest often feel like your garden variety black/thrash that I was complaining about earlier. Ragehammer perform these better than most, but some added experimentation, dissonance, or even a more unusual use of melody through more of the material would have enhanced its lasting impact. But all in all, War Hawks is a decent demo likely to appeal to fans of Cruel Force, Deathhammer, and even Nifelheim, so if you're a dedicated follower of this style, don't miss out.
Polish Impaled Nazarene? Yeah, it definitely seems to me that Ragehammer must be heavily influenced by the Finnish cult and I can hear it not only in the simple, straight forward, sometimes almost punkish riffs, but also in the vocals of Heretik Hellstörm, who screams his guts out like a possessed maniac (but surprisingly at few occasions – in “Prophet of Genocide” and “The Wolfpack” – he tries to sing with clean voice, what sounds really cool!). He sounds like he’s been trying to repeat dear old Mika Luttinen’s lunatic and utterly mad screams, which is not bad choice. Of corpse I’m not gonna accuse Ragehammer for copying Impaled Nazarene, but just wanted to point the first impression, which they made on me, when I started to listen to their demo and it was that they really remind me the Finns (hey, just listen to “Hate Command” and what do you think?). Besides, on top of all that one can find some traces of some recent Darkthrone albums, plus a bit of Nifelheim or even Absu (why not?), so anything that can have any signs of pure, old styled and archaic metal – be it black, thrash or heavy metal - as well as a bit of punk rock and stuff like that. Oh, sorry, but have I mentioned Venom?
Obviously one can think that Ragehammer may not be anything interesting, but I dare to say think twice, before you say something like that as really this debut demo – “WarHawks” – is more than enjoyable. It is actually really killer stuff! I myself am pretty surprised how much I like the music of this band and how well it has been played (and recorded). But what else can I say, if every sound from “WarHawks” is filled with hatred, aggression, ferocity, energy (which I always want to have in metal!), passion (same!) and finally there’s such a cool vibe and atmosphere… and again, how nicely aggressive and sharp are those riffs, they really will make you bang your head while you listen to it. And this is what metal is all about, dear friends! Vicious, violent and uncompromising music, full of sulphur and evil atmosphere, with absolutely possessed vocals and bulldozing guitar riffs that crush right from the first second… But I like the fact that along with those vicious songs Ragehammer composed also such a killer track like “Prophet of Genocide”, which is slower, reminding me actually a bit of Bathory (riffs only, definitely not the vocals!) and some Australian bands, except of the “chorus” part, which has been sang with the clean voice (sounding a bit like good old Hades?!) and it gets quite epic then. But it is a great song, definitely my favourite one! Fuck, whatever… “WarHawks” is definitely a very good demo and I must say that I’m really glad that I spent this fortune (which was an equivalent of 2 sterling pounds hehe) on something like this, especially as the demo is limited to 200 copies and is very nicely released in digisleeve. Arrgghhh, keep an eye on this band!
Standout tracks: “Prophet of Genocide”, “Hate Command”