Released: 2013, Self-released
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
I guess epic extreme metal is about the best description for what Germany's The Last Hangmen offer up with their self-released second album, which is now available internationally. It's most definitely epic, and undeniably extreme, bringing black, speed, power and even some folk metal elements into play and recalling Keep of Kalessin, Wintersun, Children of Bodom and even a bit of early vintage Helloween - if you're looking for convenient comparisons – along the way. For a self-released effort, Executing Empires is a pretty impressive package – moreso than the band’s homemade looking debut. The badass artwork are matched by a crisp and clean yet mean mix from Triptykon/Dark Fortress guitarist V. Santura that lets the trebly, tremolo guitars shimmer and the drums pop like rifle shots. And a good sound is crucial here, since Empires is such an utterly relentless affair.
The Hangmen seem to operate on two speeds: fast and faster. Drummer Ronny Garz is a double-bass machine here and the tandem guitars of Simon Konze and Stefan Beckert are at times a veritable blur. Yet they infuse enough melody into their manic riffing, along with some well-placed chunky hooks and dueling, dive-bomb solos (especially on “Defeat or Despair” and “Downfall of Glory”), that the songs all have character and depth, and don't merely fly by - despite the furious pace. The rousing, battle cry-like choruses on “The Holy Bond of Black Blood,” “Sleep Tight” and “... or Forever Hold Your Peace” are a zesty touch as well, adding just a bit of fist-pumping catchiness.
Frontman Pether Hantsche screams himself hoarse over the top of it all. And what he lacks in relative range he more than makes up for in sheer gusto – not to mention stamina, dude sings everything at a dead sprint without any “clean” breaks a la Keep to soothe the polyps – which goes just fine with the band's buzz-sawing attack.
The sustained chug of “Rotten Seeds” makes for a welcome modest break in the action that the album could have used a bit more of. Even the eight-minute instrumental “Executing Takes Time” that finishes things off is rife with blast beats and carpal tunnel syndrome-inducing riffing. As it is, Executing Empires is a pretty exhausting - though quite entertaining - hour of full-throttle metal intensity.