Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Review of Hatriot's Dawn of the New Centurion

Heroes of Origin may not have been a classic thrash album but it definitely turned a lot of heads in 2013. The union of thrash legend Steve "Zetro" Sousa and four twenty-somethings (two of whom are his sons) is an intriguing one and seemed to fill the void for those who wanted the pre-Dukes Exodus sound. Hatriot's sophomore effort may have been overshadowed by Zetro's return to his alma mater, but it offers some worthwhile metal for having been released so quickly.

While Hatriot's evolution between albums isn't as dramatic as the shift between Kill Em All and Ride the Lightning, Dawn of the New Centurion does show some new elements The songwriting is more complex as songs like "Silence In The House Of The Lord" and the title track have more elaborate structures while "The Fear Within" has some melodic segments that add a suspenseful flair. The gang vocals also beefed up in a year and give a strong Chuck Billy flavor to songs like "From My Cold Dead Hands" and "World Funeral." In this sense, the album feels more like a Testament offshoot than anything Exodus has come up with lately.

Of course, this is the same band even with the changes in place. The guitars and drums retain their intensity, the bass gets some prominent spots, and the production has the same clean tinge. The contributions of a man like Zetro are also unmistakeable with his shrieks at their usual pitch and the lyrics showcasing the same mix of politics, violence, and silly, silly puns. I don't think even Paul Baloff himself would come up with a title like "Superkillafragsadisticactsaresoatrocious." Probably for good reason...

The changes do result in more interesting songs than before but the writing isn't quite as catchy as the Heroes Of Origin material. The choruses of the longer songs are oddly the most memorable and thrashers like "Your Worst Enemy" will get your head going, but there aren't as many riffs that'll truly grab your attention. That said, this release does grow on you and takes a few more listens to get into compared to its predecessor.

And with that, Dawn Of The New Centurion is a solid thrash album that may offer a couple of Hatriot's best songs but falls a little short of the debut. It has some cool ideas and the band still has a lot of potential to get even better under Zetro's leadership. Let's just hope he doesn't leave them high and dry now that he's got his old gig back...

"The Fear Within"
"Silence In The House Of The Lord"
"World Funeral"
"Dawn of the New Centurion"

Friday, August 1, 2014

Review of Overkill's White Devil Armory

Overkill may have settled into a certain niche in recent years but you sure as hell can't call them lazy. 2010's Ironbound was a revitalizing kick in the pants and 2012's The Electric Age successfully kept the momentum going, even if the band has since referred to the latter as being a stylistically limited release. Now with the fascinatingly titled White Devil Armory, Overkill has promised a more dynamic album that still stays true to their lifelong signature sound.

On its most basic points, you won't find too many things on here that weren't already done on the two albums before it. None of the songs stray too far from the standard fast-paced guitar runs, D.D. Verni's bass and backing chants still complement Ron Lipsicki's constant blasts, Blitz's relentless rasp gives songs like "Armorist" and "Pig" their fire, and the sound is wrapped up with the same crispy, trebly production job. Part of me is starting to miss the bottom heavy Immortalis tone but the sound still matches the writing and performances nicely.

While the songs on here do secure themselves in the thrash metal realm, the band has made due on their promise of a more varied release than its predecessor. You won't find a complete out-of-speed experience like "Black Daze" on here but each track does have a certain quirk or tempo change that keeps things from sounding the same. It is most apparent in the second half thanks to the vocal effects on "Another Day To Die" and the epic flair of "Freedom Rings" and "In The Name," though the Necroshine-esque shifts on "Bitter Pill" make it the biggest deviation and strongest highlight.

But with the shifts comes the feeling that they still could've done a little more with them. The writing has a lot of effort put it but it is a little hard to find a "Bring Me The Night" or "The Head And Heart" on here. The bonus cover of Nazareth's "Miss Misery" with Accept's Mark Tornillo does raise a few questions; it's a cool idea but I can't help but wonder if they considered having him on one of the album's main tracks. Perhaps the reaction to their Randy Blythe collaboration scared them off...

Overkill's seventeenth full-length fits right in with the other pieces of the "Ironbound Trilogy" and may be about even with its predecessor in terms of quality. It took a few extra listens to get into than usual and still leaves one wanting more, but it's hard to imagine things any other way. Definitely a solid recommendation and a well deserved entry into the Billboard's Top 40.

"Bitter Pill"
"Freedom Rings"
"In The Name"