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Hail of Bullets - "Warsaw Rising" (CD/EP)

Hail of Bullets - "Warsaw Rising" CD/EP cover image

"Warsaw Rising" track listing:

1. Warsaw Rising (3:25)
2. Liberators (5:17)
3. Destroyer (4:26)
4. Red Wolves Of Stalin (Live) (5:45)
5. Nachthexen (Live) (4:52)
6. The Crucial Offensive (Live) (4:48)

Reviewed by on August 21, 2009

"Vocalist Martin van Drunin sounds like Lemmy from Motorhead after he got punched in the stomach while passing a kidney stone. "

Hail of Bullets formed in 2006 when various members of the Dutch death metal scene got drunk. The initial full-length album was released a year later and got a very favorable reception from the media and fans. The band has now released an EP to bridge the time-gap until the next full length release. “Warsaw Rising” has three new songs, one of which is a Twisted Sister cover, and three live tracks, and it does an admirable job of whetting the appetite for Hail of Bullet’s next album.

The band’s first album, “Of Frost and War,” was compared to throwback death metal bands like Celtic Frost and Bolt Thrower. This EP does nothing to change that comparison, and may even strengthen it. Hail of Bullets is not a carbon copy of their heroes, however, and they again present themselves well right off the bat, as the title track is a short burst of death metal brutality. At only three-and-a-half minutes long, there isn’t time for much beyond the vocals, wall of sound guitars, and one searing guitar solo. It’s quick, dirty and to the point. But the band retains their huge, dominating sound, and the song is a keeper.

The second song, “Liberators,” is an ode to the behemoth bombers of World War II. The band relaxes more here, using slow, monolithic guitar chords to set the tone. But there is space in the music for the band’s huge sound to breathe, and the song really crushes the target well. “Destroyer” is a Twisted Sister cover, and sounds like a death metal band trying to cover a classic glam metal tune. Slow and crunchy, the song is fun, but in the end it never hits. The three live songs sound pretty good and do a fine job of translating the band’s live energy to a recording. The guitar wall and distressed vocals move to a recording well, and the band sounds tight and strong. The highlight is the beginning of “Nachthexen.” the guitar chords and riffs are brutally heavy and ready to drag someone’s face across the gravel. There are bands that have been around for ten years that never achieve that sound.

Vocalist Martin van Drunin sounds like Lemmy from Motorhead after he got punched in the stomach while passing a kidney stone. Paul Baayens and Stephan Gebedi combine to form a massive wall of sound with their guitars, and Theo van Eekelen and Ed Warby wail away frantically underneath on bass and drums, respectively. But the highlight on the album is easily the production. Both guitars can be heard, even during the most massive of moments, and the bass even comes through fairly frequently.

While the band certainly doesn’t break any new death metal ground, and an EP tends to be a creative cop-out, this EP is still worthy. There are only two original songs, but fantastic production, strong playing, and an excellent base of influences to draw from give Hail of Bullets room to play the music they enjoy and play it well. It certainly shows, both in the studio and in front of their fans.

Highs: The live tracks are energetic and heavy.

Lows: The Twisted Sister cover may be fun, but isn’t that good.

Bottom line: A good holdover until the next Hail of Bullets album.

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)