Saturday, March 31, 2012

Demolition Hammer - Epidemic of Violence [1992]

It really shouldn't be possible to release an album this damn amazing nearly ten years after the inception of the thrash subgenre. Thrash seemed to peak during 1986 with masterpieces like "Pleasure to Kill," "Reign in Blood," and "Darkness Descends," rendering all later output by other bands virtually a compliment to these divine creations. Still, once "Epidemic of Violence" is heard by a listener for the first time, their reaction might be similar to the reaction of someone who just ran away from a speeding bull or the survivor of a hellacious trainwreck. Demolition Hammer's sophomore release is akin to a shot of adrenaline directly into one's heart because never before has there been such a combination of brutality, catchiness, and relentless aggression in a single thrash album before. Sure, Kreator really set the standard for brutality in the thrash genre with their magnum opus "Pleasure to Kill", but Demolition Hammer took that sound and injected an amount of catchiness and an almost groove-like sensation that the entire genre was unable to successfully do for nearly ten years.

There isn't a single thing that Demolition Hammer did wrong with the music on this record. The midpaced moments are astounding in how incredibly heavy they are for a thrash act. While a band like Bolt Thrower is notorious for their undeniable heaviness and crushing midpaced riffs, there's a distinct difference in the sounds of the two bands, because Demolition Hammer didn't need to downtune their guitars as low as the death metal masters, yet their music could smash through a brick wall all the same. The intro to "Human Dissection" is devastating with its thunderous double bass drumming a la Vinny Daze and vile guitar playing that could be compared to a giant stomping through a city and the midpaced riffs on the title track could make a corpse headbang. The faster moments of "Epidemic of Violence" are equally diabolical and intense as the slower stuff, with the track "Omnivore" being a blitzkrieg upon the listener's eardrums, but a sonic assault like this has never been more catchy. 

Steve Reynolds' vocal performance on this album is a highlight all of its own. His insane barks during the slower parts of the band's music take the already brilliant songs to a level that you never thought thrash could go and his rapid-fire assault during the faster moments (Think "Aborticide" and "Omnivore") is in a word, "eargasmic," not to mention the stellar gang vocals throughout which are just as destructive. Vinny Daze won't go down in history as one of the best drummers to ever sit behind a kit, but his work on this record is beyond superb and will be the shining moment of his legacy. The soloing isn't mindblowing, but they get the job done well and they're never playing over a dull riff, so I can't bring myself to even try and complain about it. Honestly I could talk about "Epidemic of Violence" and Demolition Hammer all day, but it would be easier to just turn the volume all the way up and seclude myself from existence for 39 and a half minutes while I headbang myself silly. 

"Skull Fracturing Nightmare"
"Epidemic of Violence"

Final Rating
An Absolute Skull-Fucking [10/10]