Released: 2009, Agonia Records
Dead Man’s Hand is a Norwegian band that have just released their debut album THE COMBINATION. Formed in Oslo in 2005, the band has strayed from the typical Scandinavian path of Black Metal or Swedish Death, and instead plays a hybrid mix of North American Thrash and death metal. The results are an interesting combination and the albums most magical moments are when these elements are combined with a sense of groove and melodic riffing.
Drummer Jostein Kohn sets the bar high on the Testament-influenced opening track, “Capaci Bomb”. The rest of the band nearly keeps up, but Kohn steals the show as he beats his way through an album of compressed aggression, finishing in about 35 minutes with only one song over the 5 minute mark. One of those magical moments I mentioned appears in the middle mosh of “Body in the Barrel”, and on this track the vocal style of the album is established with Dag Carlsen singing a section in a thrash/black metal style and following with a deep death metal cookie monster growl. This call and answer vocal style is somewhat unique, but does not always work. The album’s showcase track is “Last Stand”, where the full realization of the bands vision is most evident with a pummeling slow grind in the middle and a melodic slowdown.
For the most part, THE COMBINATION is a mid-paced thrash metal album with a slew of complicated riffs, weird time signatures and an occasional melodic passage. Lyrics and song titles like “Bloodstained Hands”, “Guillotine”, “Knuckledusted” and the previously mentioned “Body in the Barrel” are laughable. The band just might be in on the joke, but these are hard to take seriously. Don’t look for poetic majesty and inspiration in the lyrics department. Despite the piss-poor album art and lame song titles, THE COMBINATION is a snarling, angry album that should satisfy the inner aggression of Testament, The Haunted, and Cannibal Corpse fans. One dimensional? Yeah, sure. Still this is definitely listenable and better than much of what is out there today.