Friday, January 23, 2009

Demolition Hammer: Necrology-A Complete Anthology

I am approaching this collection of Demolition Hammer's material from a different viewpoint. I have just recently discovered this band through this double disc collection. For someone new to the band, this is a great way to find out what I have missed. And what have I missed exactly? Well Demolition Hammer is clearly an underrated and brutal band from the waning days of the thrash metal movement of the late 1980's/early 1990's. This fact is proven from the first two-thirds of the material presented here.

Demolition Hammer seems to reside on the borderline of thrash metal and death metal. Too brutal to be totally thrash, but not brutal enough to the same extent as some of the early death metal innovators such as Death, Master, or even Possessed. Nevertheless, Demolition Hammer has a lot to offer on its first two albums which take up the entire first disc and the first several songs on the second disc.

The riffing and solos on the Tortured Existence and Epidemic of Violence parts of the collection are extremely intense, allowing little time to stop and consider what the hell is going on in the music. The vocals are fairly typical for thrash and are one of the weaker points to the band. Vocalist Steve Reynolds unfortunately does not utilize much range in his vocal style. One of the strong points, and something that is fairly unique for thrash metal, is that the bass is audible. This is great because what Reynolds lacks as a vocalist, he more than makes up for in his creativity with the bass guitar. As great as many of the songs are in this part of the collection, unfortunately it tends to all run together at a certain point. That being said, there are some truly amazing songs in this such as "Mercenary Aggression" and "Epidemic of Violence".

The second part of the second disc is the Time Bomb album, which was originally planned by the band to be released under a different name. Century Media though refused to release the album unless it was under the Demolition Hammer moniker. This gives the second disc a disjointed feel as Time Bomb is not a thrash metal album. Time Bomb can best be described as a groove metal album more in tune with Vulgar-era Pantera or Foul Taste-era Pro-Pain. As a stand-alone album under a different name, this would have been a perfectly acceptable release. It is actually reasonably catchy and memorable, in particular the Devo cover "Mongoloid", however as a Demolition Hammer release, it fails to live up to the promise exhibited by the prior two albums. It also suffers from a lack of guitar solos, which were impressive on the first two releases and are now completely absent.

The additional bonus tracks tacked onto the end of the second disc are two pre-production demo tracks from the Time Bomb album. These are completely superfluous and could have easily been left off of the final product. The only real difference is that they have poorer production value than the Time Bomb tracks.

All in all, this is a good release in order to check out the entirety of the Demolition Hammer catalog. The question is left to the consumer as to whether they would want to check out the entire catalog. Certainly Tortured Existence and Epidemic of Violence should be required listening for any thrash metal fan, but Time Bomb is unnecessary. Finding the individual albums is a little bit of a chore and this does make the Anthology a little more desirable.
One last complaint that I have is the way that the two discs are divided. I understand the need to provide the music in some kind of chronological order, but I am less clear on why it was necessary to split up Epidemic the way it was done. This is clearly the strongest album of Demolition Hammer's career, so why subject it to this? It would have been better to present the catalog as a three disc set with maybe a few more demo tracks or live tracks corresponding with each release. I'm not normally a big fan of bonus tracks, but this seems like a better idea than the way Century Media handled this.

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