Album Review: Hail Death by Black Anvil
Posted by RiffRaff
If there’s one thing I’ve noticed about the majority of bands hailing from New York, it’s that they have a penchant for being uncompromising, direct, to the point, and pull absolutely no punches. It must come from the non-stop pedal to the metal lifestyle of its denizens as the hustle and bustle throughout one of the worlds most bat shit crazy cities. Just look at the city’s storied hard-core scene and you’ll soon realize that none of those band take no shit from anyone. New Yorkers also know how to party, and that also shines through in the East Coasts style of thrash. Now, when we take the uncompromising side of NYC and mix it with its happy-go-lucky party side and jack it up on a base of black metal, you get a nice unique mix resulting in a little gem of a band called Black Anvil.
With a thick base of black metal, Predator vocals, blast beats, tremolo picking, and evil evilness get accentuated thrashy riffs, high-flying solos, and hardcore style gang vocals to create one of the more engaging records I’ve heard this year. There’s also a smattering of prog tossed in to keep things interesting!
Opening up with a Gothic, acoustic guitar intro, the album opener ‘Still Reborn’ lulls you in with a bit of misdirection as after that nice little passage finishes up a tsunami of abrasive black metal kicks in. And while you’re jamming out to the sweet blackened riffs the music acts much like a NYC cabbie, and careens down different routes and alleyways with reckless abandon. You’ll get beer flavored party thrash riffs and solos tossed at you, drug-induced proggy interludes dangled in your face, and witness overcharged hardcore slam dance breakdowns. It slips in and out of and blends these styles seamlessly never once leaving anything but awe on your face. This is the basic formula for the 9 tracks (+1 bonus track) on Hail Death.
But to avoid sounding formulaic, each track tosses unique avenues and divergences. ‘Redemption Through Blood’ and ‘Seven Stars Unseen’ take epic doom metal twists and ‘Next Level Black’ and ‘N’ have an Opeth-ian feel to them. Sprinklings of classic death metal, traditional metal, and NWOBHM also pepper various tracks. Pretty much, even songs that breach the seven minute mark rarely leave a lack of engagement; just solid songwriting through and through.
This record was my first exposure to Black Anvil and it certainly won’t be my last (off to Bandcamp I go!). It’s releases like this that keep my jaded ass on the hunt for new stuff to listen to instead of reaching back to listen to 7th Son or Ghost Reveries for the umpteenth million time. If you’re looking for a great thrashy black metal album chock full of great ideas and variety with a nice NYU attitude to check out you owe it to yourself to listen to Hail Death (and lookie there! There’s a stream in the Bandcamp player below!!!). 4.5 out of 5