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Tanuki, December 4th, 2017

Wallowing through the rimy dungeons of "cult classic" metal can be perilous. One misstep and you've fallen into a bait and switch pit, and impaled by sunk-cost fallacy spikes. I've wasted many an hour suffering through such albums, only because their insidious sequencing put all of the interesting tracks first, second, and third. The rest? Bland, boilerplate cock rock that sounds like it was written by a completely different band. As you may surmise from the middling score I've awarded, Hammers Rule's debut effort Show No Mercy is one such example.

Yes, they actually called it that, mere months after Slayer's debut of the same name. Complete lack of rest assured, they sound nothing alike. Inordinately mellow and reserved considering their visage and subject matter, Hammers Rule lounges around a style parallel to where the NWOBHM movement was at this time. Not yet a complete neutering, but without debate a depressive depository of dwindling dignity as denoted by Tygers of Pan Tang's The Wreck-Age or Raven's Stay Hard.

That's not to say the musicianship of Show No Mercy is incompetent, just misguided. The late Ron "Spunki" Mechlinski in particular puts in a good showing, peppering this album with some surprisingly zesty solos like in 'Hammers Rule', in addition to some funky riffing throughout 'Pool of Piranhas'. At times its remarkably eccentric considering its context, managing to remind me on more than one occasion of the bizarrely catchy riffcraft of Loudness guitarist Akira Takasaki. This is especially the case with the fantastically implemented chorus of 'After the Bomb'.

Less impressive is the nostril-less helmsman Blade Duncan. To carry on with the dying NWOBHM analogy, his nasally crooning is very reminiscent of Michael Pozz. You don't remember him from his brief stint with Tokyo Blade, resulting in the absolutely abominable and aptly-named No Remorse. I don't have quite as berserk feelings regarding Duncan, but I do think he's comparatively boring. His unexplained, intermittent "Sheepdog"-esque screeches notwithstanding.

And now, for the Chekhov's gun that I alluded to earlier, shooting you right between the balls. The B Side of this album may as well not exist. It's a funeral procession of substanceless, glacially paced snoozers, with 'Sex, Drugs & Rock 'n' Roll' claiming the throne of barebones unoriginality. There's still the faintest semblance of interesting riffing and funky bass riffs scattered throughout, but it takes a drastic backseat to mind-numbing repetition and flatout boring lyricism. Never mind the fact 'Little Girls' would get them thrown in the same cell as Virgin Steele and Oingo Boingo.

In conclusion, Hammers Rule is intriguing. It experimented with some interesting ideas, but either chickened out at the last second, or just didn't have enough of them to keep the whole ship afloat. And that's a little unfortunate. Because as far as US metal circa 1984 is concerned, you don't have to settle with "some good ideas".