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Black Anvil - "Hail Death" (CD)

Black Anvil - "Hail Death" CD cover image

"Hail Death" track listing:

1. Still Reborn
2. Redemption Through Blood
3. Eventide
4. Seven Stars Unseen
5. G.N.O.N.
6. Until the End
7. My Hate Is Pure
8. N
9. Next Level Black
10. Under the Rose (Kiss cover) (bonus)

Reviewed by on June 30, 2014

"There is an epic quality that runs throughout the album accomplished through clean vocals and instruments, building tempos, and layering songs with guitar harmonies and solos."

Black Anvil is a group of New York City hardcore musicians playing black metal with elements of thrash. Other than brief gang choruses, nothing on the band's third output "Hail Death" will have listeners talking hardcore. Gang choruses are a conventional aspect of punk, but due to their ghostly delivery here, that is about as punk as "Hail Death" gets.

Conventional is hardly the right term to describe Black Anvil, at least on this record. Sure there are plenty of speed bursts, grisly vocals, and parts likened to black and death metal groups of greater renown. However, the extended time comprising each track ("Next Level Black" clocks in at over 11 minutes) is spent creating music that is anything but straightforward. There is an epic quality that runs throughout the album accomplished through clean vocals and instruments, building tempos, and layering songs with guitar harmonies and solos.

Whether it's ringing notes that bleed into a barrage of speed, a thick groove, or a distortion-less harmony, many of the songs on "Hail Death" begin with some sort of introduction. The first two tracks contain two of the best openers on the album. The acoustic guitar of "Still Reborn" relates an esoteric quality of a similar feel to Tiamat's opening lines on "In A Dream."

"Redemption Through Blood" opens to militaristic drumming with a guitar melody playing in the background. Of course, the onset of these songs wouldn't mean anything if there wasn't a strong change up. Tremolo-picked chords of a Behemoth variety prove a worthy transition on "Still Reborn," while "Redemption Through Blood" finds scorched grooves and vocal harmonies similar to Marduk. "Until The End" swells with emotion through acoustic-electric guitar tandem, and then finds its stride in a big groove.

When the band puts a halt to the speed, which is tremendous in its own right, it often finds grooves that show off the album's solid production values. "Until the End" and "G.N.O.N." both include bass driven parts, something sorely lacking in most areas of today's metal. The guitars don't require a shift of the tempo to stand out, although the band's layering of harmonies and solos certainly enhance each track. "Redemption Through Blood" offers a tremendous showing of skill in terms of guitar soloing. I can't think of a better guitar solo than the minute-plus entry that weaves and winds in a bluesy fashion and pushes the drums into a blast. Whoever plays this solo, SOS or G.B., plays it so fast and high on the neck he must have required a bucket of ice to keep his fingers from catching fire! Also check out "Seven Stars Unseen" for more bluesy harmonies.

Harmonies aren't always sweet music to the ears of an avid black metal fans. However, skipping through each song will reveal meaner, faster parts. It's not a serving of raw tones. It has more in common with "mainstream" acts such as Behemoth, Marduk and Watain while possessing qualities found in the realms of melodic death metal. A couple parts relate shoegaze-y, alternative sounds that will result in some listeners running for the hills Whether the style fits or not, one thing is for sure, Black Anvil knows how to play instruments and the band members have serious chops!

Highs: The band's ability to shift tempos without changing the mood keeps long tracks moving.

Lows: While harmonies mostly work for each track, some melodies have an alternative/shoegaze quality that hurts the mood.

Bottom line: An epic piece of black/thrash metal. Look away if you're a black metal purist.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 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)