Released: 2005, Witches Brew
Um, yes. Hammerwhore are part of a new wave of thrash metal that seems to be getting noticed more and more. Within the last few years there’s been more notice given to some of the old school bands in the mainstream (mainstream for metal of course) and with more awareness comes a small swelling of underground thrash acts. In many cases this is a bad sign, but for thrash, a sub genre that has been rather neglected since the early 90’s, this is the resurgence the style needs. With the fan bases of bands like Toxic Holocaust and Municipal Waste growing as well as seeing some mild recognition in some of the bigger metal mags one can only hope that this will inspire others. This brings me to Hammerwhore. Forming in 2001 off of heavy doses of old school thrash, the band recorded a 3 song promo (DEVOTION TO VIOLENCE) as well as a 7 song CD-R (MERCYLESS BRUTALITY) in attempts to spread the word. Eventually the word was heard by the german label Witches Brew who wasted little time in signing the band in 2004 and releasing their self-titled debut in 2005.
Hammerwhore play old school thrash influenced by the New York Scene (I hear ample amounts of Overkill, Nuclear Assault and the like), the German scene (think of Destruction’s SENTENCE OF DEATH EP), and a touch of crossover. This isn’t technical thrash, this isn’t “let’s count the number of riffs” thrash, this is reckless, straightforward, balls to the pavement thrash metal. Hammerwhore’s vocal approach is on the rough, quasi-death vocal style for the most part. There is the odd, almost Schmier styled, scream as well as a couple songs that have a more raspy approach. All of this helps to create a different identity for each song, lord knows how many people complain about bands who use the same style of vocals for every song…
“Victim of Psycho-Toxin” opens the album in fine form, with immediate thrashing madness. Simple drum lines, straight to the point riffing, and rough vocals will instantly have thrashers banging and airguitaring just as well as the classics. Snare rolls open “Devotion to Violence”. The riffing here is less chunky, feels more like really early thrash metal, a little like early Destruction, while the vocals hit lower this time with a chorus that gets the fist pumping. “Heavy Metal Destroyers” reminds me of Overkill’s “In Union We Stand”, while it’s not really a copy nor keeps the same pace or has the same riffing style, it has that kind of epic thrash feeling to it. It stays at a very pounding, grinding pace, not too fast, yet not becoming slow enough to become groove or doom oriented.
“Evil Command” starts off mid-paced with my favourite riff on the album that really hits hard when the drums get into full swing. The riff serves merely as a precursor to the thrashing madness, the song reminds me a little more of crossover with more open chorded riffing, while the vocals become higher pitched. In “Onward to Oblivion” the band hits full force using a great fast tempo to really set the pace for the song. Various riffs come out of nowhere with the song stopping and starting at least a few times with minutes going by before a voice is heard. Dual guitar melodies open “Outlet of Lust” with the heavy, bouncing chugging taking over soon after. The song just thrashes, even with some Tom Araya styled screams thrown in for good measure and I can definitely see a pit forming for that thrash break and the ensuing solos.
I hate to throw out the term “instant classic” or “classic in the making” but this hits that mark perfectly. In a thrash scene desperate for good bands, one can look to Hammerwhore and not only satisfy a thrash craving but find a band that lives up to the greats of the past.