Bastard Priest: Under the Hammer of Destruction

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Bastard Priest: Under the Hammer of Destruction
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Bastard Priest: Under the Hammer of Destruction
Death Metal
Blood Harvest Records
August, 2010
Release length: 45:56
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Bastard Priest is a relatively new band, but they play some of the most accurate old-school Death Metal one could hear in this day and age. Formed back in 2001, it took several years for the band to make a demo recording, and another two years to find a home with Blood Harvest Records. Under the Hammer of Destruction offers some great nostalgic Swedish soaked Death Metal that is dripping with rage that slams away at the listener. Though there’s nothing all that technical about the effort, having most of it follow a rather simple pattern of musical composition and performance, it’s full of energy, and depicts the best qualities of the style in it’s earlier days. But, does it offer enough material to keep even the most rabid Death Metal fan happy?

This debut full-length from Bastard Priest truly does capture the best qualities of earlier Death Metal, and it sounds fantastic. For the most part, the speed and intensity of the music boils down mostly to what sounds like slowed down blast beats that give a grinding sound to the muisc, hammering away at the listener at full force. Of course, there are times where the band opts for a more atmospheric approach that finds the music becoming dark and melancholic, acting as a great supporting atmospheric approach to the faster, more intense sections of the music. It also works well on it’s own, as the instrumental track “Chock” features a nice dark and dismall sounding atmosphere that works well as an introductory track before the solid, driving title track “Under the Hammer of Destruction” that, granted, isn’t anything too unique, but finds the band not utilizing the two-step as much and going for a more modern Swedish Death Metal approach. Right away, this darker approach is one of the elements that will stand out right away to the listener, especially during the track “Blasphemy from Hell” which nicely mixes both concepts to give a good idea of what the album will be like, and set this release apart from plenty of other bands in the slowly growing early Death Metal movement. But, that isn’t everything as far as the music goes, though it makes up a good majority of some of the songs on the release.

Some of the tracks feature a more Punk/Thrash feel to them as well, such as “Visions of Doom”, which utilizes double bass kicks at a steady pace, but never really gets too fast and comes off as a rather simple design, as well as “Power of Death”, which flows at a much faster pace and has a little more complexity to it, though still finds some of the simpler compositions that litter the album like the aforementioned “Visions of Doom”. Even the chorus shows the not-so-complex compositions by it simply being the song title repeated, but the vocals are changed up a bit to best fit the more-then-expected vocal approach. The vocals on this release aren’t necessarily gutterals, but a deeper rhasp if anything, which are recorded with a nice echo effect that would be used on any earlier Metal release. Aside those little trademarks of the style, the production quality of the album is very raw, giving off the impression that what you are listening to it is being played on a vinyl, which it isn’t, or atleast something that came out in the late eighties to early nineties, if even that early. This quality just enhances everything, especially the vocals, making the entire effort just sound more menacing then if it were to have a quality by today’s standards, which would ultimately ruin such a great nod to earlier glory days of Metal.

Under the Hammer of Destruction also comes with the band’s demo, Merciless Insane Death, as bonus material, and it’s a nice addition to this release. The production quality on the demo tracks isn’t that much different from the studio tracks, in fact they sound practically the same, except that the vocals have a little more echo going on then anything. If you’re not paying attention, you’ll just think that you are still listening to the new songs that were recorded for this release. of course, this is rather ironic since the tracks that are not from the 2008 demo are apparently recordings from 2007, with three new songs included. The tracks from the 2008 demo, however, start at the title track, “Under the Hammer of Destruction”, and just show that the band has stayed consistent over the years.

If you’re looking for solid, intimidating Death Metal in the vein of the many inspirational bands that put the style on the map, then Sweden’s Bastard Priest should be your next stop. Under the Hammer of Destruction may be more of a compilation then a full-length, but unless you read the booklet, or read any review that is aware of this, such as this one, chances are good you’d never know or even pick up on it. The band has stayed consistent with their material, and even with the lower, more raw production quality, which all works great in the long run to great a punishing Death Metal release that even the picky fan of the style will be warmly embracing.

01. Blasphemy from Hell – 3:32
02. Visions of Doom – 4:16
03. Evil Pain – 2:48
04. Total Mutilation – 2:45
05. Power of Death – 2:21
06. Chock – 3:23
07. Under the Hammer of Destruction – 3:45
08. From Beyond – 2:24
09. Mecriless Insane Death – 2:45
10. Graveyard Sacrifice – 3:52
11. En Hälsning från Helvetet (Bombanfall cover)
Overall Score: 9/10


Digital review copy of this release provided by Blood Harvest Records.