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Solid black/death with the world's worst snare - 72%

BastardHead, May 19th, 2009

Spearhead's Deathless Steel Command doesn't break any new ground. It sits probably in the 70s percentile in the spectrum of metal ass kicking, it plays the same riffs we've been hearing for years, and would generally be discarded as a decent but uninteresting band by me. Yet there is something at work here that grabs my attention. I don't know what it is, but there is something underneath the surface that grabs me by the balls and bites. Apart from a few scattered melodic sections like the intro to "Dominion", the record consists of mainly non stop blasting with solid black/death riffs.

The main problem with Deathless Steel Command may also be the thing that helps accentuate the greatness... and that is the snare. Whatever fucktard set up the drums needs to be caned, because the blast beats sound absolutely ridiculous when the poppity tin snare gets pushed to the forefront and smashed repeatedly. When it comes to drums, the toms are supposed to have tones, the snare should not. The snare drum should be pure percussion and nothing more. When your main beat keeper plays a distinguished note with every hit, you are just asking for annoyance and distraction. It usually sounds bad but not irritating, that is until a blast comes along and it starts getting hit really fast, then it becomes impossible to ignore. But I have found that the fact that I dwell on this actually caused me to become more aware of the music surrounding it. I think to myself "Christ on a cracker, this sounds terrible. This totally obscures the otherwise cool music", and then I start to pay extra attention to the music to see exactly what I'm missing. This strange phenomenon lead me to appreciate the black metal fury underneath much more. I understand that crystal clear production doesn't really get along with black metal, but I'm also sure it wouldn't've killed them to try and clean up that fucking "POP" noise scattered throughout.

I've mentioned that these riffs aren't anything new, but that doesn't stop them from ruthlessly killing everything in front of them. Spearhead is a part of the group consisting of Goatwhore, Skeletonwitch, and Grave Digger (among many others), in where they don't really do anything that they or other bands haven't done before and better, but they do it so damn well that it doesn't matter in the slightest. There's actually a good degree of variation on display as well. Every song is pure, fiery black metal with an added death metal flair, but the drums aren't content to just blast and double bass throughout the whole thing, and change it up quite a few times to add a nice pace change here and there ("Violated Purity" and "The Glorious Dead" do this well). The leads, as showcased in nearly every song, are fantastic as well. Most of them are short, but they shred quickly and get the job done. Most of the songs themselves follow the same idea, being short but to-the-point and incredibly effective.

Overall, the shit-tacular drum sound lowered the score quite a bit, and the short running length leaves the listener unsatisfied. Sure, they shouldn't drag an album out if they don't have enough material, but it just feels incomplete... like they couldn't get all of their ideas cemented down before recording started. The fact of the matter is that it isn't a very large loss, as the band's next outing will blow this out of the water in absolutely every category. So even though I like this, I actually wouldn't recommend it purely for the fact that Spearhead has done much better, and not hearing this won't actually harm your opinion. Fans of fast, powerful black/death metal should keep an eye out for this band, as I predict bright things in their future.