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Hatchet - "Awaiting Evil" (CD)

Hatchet - "Awaiting Evil" CD cover image

"Awaiting Evil" track listing:

1. Darkening Skies (2:02)
2. Frailty Of The Flesh (4:19)
3. Sealed Fate (4:410
4. Frozen Hell (4:25)
5. Attack Imminent (5:05)
6. Morlocks Tomb (5:18)
7. Storm The Gates (5:53)
8. The Dead Will March (4:37)
9. Awating Evil (05:46)

Reviewed by on July 11, 2008

"[Awaiting Evil] dusts off a fine old genre of metal and enables the fivesome to have a little fun without distorting the sound they strive to represent."

Bay Area thrashers Hatchet are latecomers to the Californian scene, yet they’ve already achieved some success with a few demos and EPs leading to their signing to Metal Blade Records. Silly song titles notwithstanding, they may be deserving of their newfound limelight.

“Darkening Skies” is an intro of extensive vamping which gives way to the heavier thrash pulse of “Frailty of the Flesh” and Marcus’ rather standard thrash vocals, neither growling nor high-pitched. Dan delivers a trademark bass line while Julian and Sterling gallop behind their frontman before emitting high-pitched solo squeals.

That being said, “Sealed Fate” is likely the track to make you perk up and check the calendar -- it’s still 2008, right? Increased complexity, louder drums, faster Death Angel-styled vocals of a broader range and a driven groove-thrash sound drop everything good about the 80’s right in your lap. “Sealed Fate” would be a great live song, bringing out lots of old biker dudes in denim vests covered in band patches, lining the pit. Alex stays heavy on the snare and tight guitar-work ensure that “Frozen Hell” won’t let anybody down, with vicious, high-pitched shredding punctuating the growling rhythm. “Attack Imminent” initially reads like an old-school Exodus song before breaking off into a syncopated and frenetic stampede.

“Morlock’s Tomb” is a great piece of darker thrash, catchy in the progression of repeated chords and squealing guitars, with a little additional percussionist flavor as the tempo speeds up and slows down. “Storm The Gates” is sweet (yes, that’s a legitimate adjective), pumping out furiously paced verses that
almost smack of Vader are set behind Marcus’ falsetto as his crew bellows the eponymous lyrics. Perhaps it’s not overly original, but this traditional thrashy arrangement is guaranteed to please even the most jaded listeners. “The Dead Will March” follows much of the same structure as the former track with less driven pacing and the title track brings things to completion with excellent clarity and precision.

This little piece of mimicry is not one to make the old thrasher roll their eyes in disgust, rather, it dusts off a fine old genre of metal and enables the fivesome to have a little fun without distorting the sound they strive to represent. In fact, the main problem with this review is in the discussion of to whom it might best be marketed. The hardcore old-schoolers who listen to little other than 80’s thrash will be loathe to give these guys a try, but more diverse metalheads may be bored by Hatchet’s strictly thrashy approach if it’s not their cup of tea. Then again, the success of acts like Warbringer certainly serves to set the stage for “Awaiting Evil,” to the more receptive among us.

Not too shabby at all, boys of the N.W.O.B.A.T.!

Highs: Enjoyable from start to finish, Hatchet may be a little retro but the group's old-timey playing is likely to please.

Lows: A lack of originality could be cited here, as the thrash definitely conforms to the mode and the group has no unique vision or improvements to place upon it.

Bottom line: You’re not going to cast aside your Testament CDs, but you’re going to remember some of the more striking tracks, such as “Sealed Fate” and probably ponder how well they’d translate to a live show.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)