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A solid beginning - 80%

androdion, October 14th, 2012

Poland has become over the past two decades a high quality birthing place for many death and black metal acts, some of them achieving underground or even worldwide recognition. The impact of giants live Vader or Behemoth is clearly undeniable but there are many more interesting bands to discover on that Eastern country. Despite still having a few long running acts there is also a recent stream of newer bands emerging in the past decade, after the stepping stones set down by the more classical and renowned acts of the nineties. There’s also an apparent will from these bands to expand the typical Polish death metal sound, as we see more than a few of them abandoning the ultra-heavy blasting style that gave the country’s scene so much recognition in the past in favour of new and fresh approaches. We see these new bands trying to absorb some outer influences and introducing a more thought out and often semi-technical approach, making many of these modern death metal albums real treats and happy surprises for the distracted listener.

I came into contact with Calm Hatchery after having their name splashed all over the European distros that I usually visit. Everywhere I turned to I would see their sophomore album for sale, so I eventually decided to check it out. I can only say that I’m glad I did because it’s a clear example of the past paragraph and a great slab of modern death metal. With such a potent sophomore effort my curiosity about their debut eventually got the best of me, so I decided to investigate and see if they were a one trick pony or not. After checking their Bandcamp page and listening to three songs I eventually ordered the damn thing from the band and waited impatiently for it to arrive. Now, I will say that this album isn’t as good as the following effort but it’s still a solid and decent piece of modern death, reminding me of a hybrid between Vader’s death/thrash rhythms and Decapitated’s more technical approach with a sprinkle of modern day Behemoth, all of this without overusing or blatantly copying any of the original templates. The album also has to its own advantage the fact that it lasts little over half an hour, so it never overstays its welcome.

The opener, “Stone Wings Of The Emperor”, sets the tone on the Third Reich’s African campaign by a continuous martial pounding of the drums, and after one minute everything suddenly explodes in furious drumming and lightning fast palm-muted chords. Resemblances to Vader’s De Profundis are pretty evident from the rhythm of the song to the drums, where the snare sounds very much like Doc’s used to. “Beauty Of Pain” continues to set the tone into overdrive with an almost technical main riff that exudes the brilliant guitar work this album presents us with. The pace is frenetic and unrelenting but there’s still space for the band’s trademark melodic lead/breakdown/grooving section that they so happily apply on most of the songs. It’s somewhat formulaic but they do it with enough spirit to convince me of its value. Speaking of alternation between grooving and blasting sections, just check the deliciously infectious title track with its marvelous transitions and catchy chorus. It’s hard to be surprised on accounts of originality but it’s also impossible to remain impervious to the intensity with which the band delivers these tunes, and with an average length of three and a half minutes per song you don’t get to become bored.

The whole album is immensely cohesive in all its glory and presentation and never deviates much from the path set from the beginning, instead it revels in what the band does best, and that is creating catchy tunes with remarkable riffs and leads that leave you salivating for more. Despite the continuous tone and consistently good quality there are still a few moments that deserve some particular recognition. For instance the grooving mid-paced rhythms of “God Of Shadows” that continuously rolls down like a heavy tank crushing you in slow motion and presents a beautiful guitar lead, the rapid-fire “Execution” with its frenetic main section and intense blasting, “Evolutionary Burning” that features the best breakdown of the entire album near the chorus, or even “Psycho Desert” which is the longest song of the album and presents a clear nod to Morbid Angel in its main riff. To be perfectly honest almost every song is a highlight on this album, these are just a few that feature a particular riff or section that springs out more. The quality, and at the expense of repetition, is always kept on a high note.

To say that I was pleasantly surprised by this band is an understatement. After being thoroughly convinced by their sophomore album, and working my way back in retrospective, I found out another album that’s nearly as good. The band would evolve a bit in the passing years and produce an even more enticing effort in the future, but when looking back at El-Alamein what I find is a really good, concise, brutal and devastating album. Rarely does a modern death metal album sound so greatly woven and as catchy as this one. Sure it does sound a bit like the aforementioned bands and their influence is more than clear, yet Calm Hatchery manages to present these nine songs in a really compelling and convincing way that will leave any fan of the Polish and Floridian schools of death metal very pleased. Many people speak of originality nowadays but when the delivery is as poignant and pleasant as it is on this album why is that factor so important? In the end it’s a great piece of death metal and that’s what really matters.