Thursday 29 May 2014

Black Anvil - Hail Death (Album Review)

Album Type : Full Length
Date Released : 23/5/2014
Label : Relapse Records

Hail! Death, track listing :

1). Still Reborn 09:09
2). Redemption Through Blood 06:44
3). Eventide 06:43
4). Seven Stars Unseen 07:50
5). G.N.O.N. 05:56
6). Until The End 07:11
7). My Hate Is Pure 05:02
8). N 06:50
9). Next Level Black 11:39
10). Under The Rose (Kiss Cover) (Bonus) 04:39

Bio :

New York City’s titans of metal BLACK ANVIL return with their third album ‘Hail Death’, a truly epic masterpiece of blackened death metal.  Having spent the bulk of the last 4 years touring and playing shows with the likes of Watain, Marduk, Inquisition and more, BLACK ANVIL returned to the studio last summer with legendary producer J Robbins (Clutch, Against Me!, Coliseum and many many more) to record ‘Hail Death’.  The results are nothing short of spectacular---a record that both pays homage to the classics of the genre while at the same time pushing the boundaries of technicality and songcraft to create a record that is very fresh and relevant.  ‘Hail Death’ is an instant classic of blackened death metal!

The Band :

Paul Delaney | Bass/Vocals
Raeph Glicken | Drums/Vocals
Gary Bennett | Guitar/Vocals
Sos | Guitar

Review :

Black Anvil initially started out mixing in more of a hardcore flavor to the black metal on offer, no doubt owing to the their past in Kill Your Idols, a hardcore band also based out of New York City. It was a good start, to be sure. Their second album, ‘Triumvirate’, left a lot of the hardcore elements behind in favor of a more straight-forward melodic black metal approach, relying a lot more on the sort of writing you’d hear out of a band like Dissection, Sacramentum or Lord Belial. Now, we have ‘Hail Death’, an album which finds Black Anvil throwing all of it together and adding new elements to boot. It’s their best album to date from just about every angle I can come up with.

While still being firmly rooted in the melodic black metal of ‘Triumvirate’, ‘Hail Death’ is a much more varied album. Whether it’s the clean vocals and gang vocals (!) that are all over “Redemption through Blood” or just a greater attention to mixing up tempos and drum beat choices, there’s a lot more to chew on here. The riffs here also feel a lot freer. I’m not sure that they were holding back before, but when the moment seems to call for it, they’ll conjure anything from Dissection to Witchery to Neurosis and there’s some 90s Florida death metal and 80s heavy metal thrown in as well. Hell, there’s a moment in “Eventide” that sounds like it might belong on a more recent Enslaved album. The key is that nothing sounds out of place; it comes together beautifully.

I mentioned drumming choices earlier; Raeph Glicken’s performance on ‘Hail Death’ is
outstanding. He’s constantly keeping things interesting, using a wide array of unique beats and putting forth a deep groove at all times. His performance sounds human, which is an enormously refreshing change of pace given modern metal’s love affair with clinical drum performance. You can even make out the accents during double kick runs; it’s an utter joy to listen to at all times. His performance is dynamic, and thanks to smart production choices, you can hear everything he’s doing in a way that keeps the lifeblood flowing in each and every song.

The same praise goes for everyone in Black Anvil. They’ve greatly improved as song writers; they’ve learned to make the most out of little nuances that turn basic transitions into moments you look forward to hearing over again. They’ve embraced some elements that are new to their sound, coming from some of the best parts of metal’s history. They’ve “matured” without becoming a less metal band, which is of particular interest to me since that’s become a pet peeve of mine in my old age. They didn’t need to become a prog rock band. They didn’t need to ape Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine and they sure as shit didn’t need to add any palm muting syncopated with kick drums ala Meshuggah and Fear Factory. Black Anvil proves that you can achieve huge growth as a band, still be recognizable from one album to the next and do so without resorting to meeting the expectations of conventional wisdom.

All of this is to say that ‘Hail Death’ comes with my highest recommendation. It’s one of the best of the year so far.

Words by : Daniel Jackson

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