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Angelcorpse "Hammer Of Gods" - 84%

VinterNatt1785, November 19th, 2011

After sacrificing "Goats To Azazel", North America's Angelcorpse attacked with the "Hammer Of Gods" in this 1996 debut LP released on Osmose Productions. Many people consider Angelcorpse to be death/black metal but not I said this metalhead. While the death influences and Morbid Angel sound(thanked many times in the liner notes including Trey A. on "Exterminate".) is clearly there at times, I believe this outfit to be closer to speed/thrash/black category. At times musically sounding like Suomi's own Impaled Nazarene, I can clearly see where their black hearts lie towards, sounding nothing like Vital Remains' early work which I consider to be death/black i.e. "Into Cold Darkness" etc. While not a masterpiece like "Exterminate", "Hammer Of Gods" is a likable album and the war ravaged artwork of a medieval battle scene on the cover sets the tone for what lies ahead.

Pete Helmkamp's vocals are cold, ruthless and full of anger while also at times not perfect, are still raging with contempt and emotion, while his bass is definitely audible and terrifyingly fast. This man makes you believe what he screams and the lyrics are crystal clear so you don't need to sit there and use the booklet. Gene Palubicki's leads are fucking insane and in your face, tearing open assholes with riffs a-plenty and maybe exaggerating slightly, just as many solos as there are riffs. In fact, my only gripe with the production which doesn't include the low value of it which I don't mind, is that when Palubicki breaks into solo, the volume goes up, wayyyyyyy up. But his heart is in the right place and they are badass breaks.

Bill Taylor is a talented guitarist and very underrated when it comes to his place on "Hammer Of Gods". His rhythm sections are tight and in sync with Palubicki's, not one complaint here. John Longstreth's drum playing is probably my least favorite of all on here, nothing at all like on "Exterminate" in which he showed what he's capable of. It's not that it's horrible, it just sounds a lot lower than everything else present.

"Consecration" is a bomb dropped on a heavily populated city, the rapture incarnate, the perfect way to open "Hammer Of Gods". Other notable mentions are "Envenomed" with the chorus being Helmkamp's spelling of the title and several ass ripping solos by Palublicki. "When Abyss Winds Return" is vicious and war torn, and "Black Solstice" to me feels rather darker and colder than any song on "Hammer Of Gods". "Soulflayer" is another catchy spine snapper war anthem opening with Helmkamp's insane signature scream, and then comes along the most epic track here, "Perversion Enthroned". From the intro of a Praetorian drum march, you can feel how special this song is, and it's about none other than Caligula himself who is always prime pickings(but not done enough)for metal songs.

The two cover songs, first one being "Burning In Hell" by Possessed and the next being "Pleasure To Kill" by Kreator do not resemble the originals in almost any way but rather have been "Angelcorpsified", done their own way. In my humble opinion, I enjoyed these covers because for once, I didn't have to hear another cover of Venom's "Countess Bathory" and two, these could have been Angelcorpse songs lyrically, if they weren't already created by Possessed and Kreator. If you've never heard Angelcorpse and want to start somewhere, "Hammer Of Gods" is a good place to start or if you come across "Exterminate" pick that up as well. Again, with most bands you can hear the evolution take place if you start off with "Hammer Of Gods" and then listen to "Exterminate". "Hammer Of Gods" is still a decent debut release any way you slice it, and if you enjoy esoteric occult war metal than you will most likely appreciate this.