Metal Blade Records
May 19th, 2008
Release length: 57:31
Yes and no. Hail Of Bullets is a remarkable death metal band musically. “Before The Storm (Barbarossa)” kicks off with a nice, haunting instrumental that really depicts a metal war march. Then, right from the start of “Ordered Eastward”, we are greeted with pounding old school death metal riffs and drumming that only Sweden can bring us. It’s enough to make you want to grab a gun and start a war of your own. But then, the vocals kick in, and all goes straight to hell. While the vocals do sound like they would have come from earlier bands such as Possessed, these vocals have a tendency to sound more like Macabre are simply don’t work a lot of time with the music. A deeper gutteral vocal style really would have helped these songs along to perfection.
But not all the songs are destroyed by that, and not all the time does the vocalist clash with the music. While there are moments, such as the beginning howl on “Advancing Once More”, that sound absolutely atrocious with this style, there are some songs that work well with it. “General Winter”, “Nachthexen”, “Inferno At The Carpathian Mountains” and “The Crucial Offensive (19-11-1942, 7:30AM)” sound like traditional old school death metal albums, but with vocals that aren’t so over the top, with “The Crucial Offensive” being the best song off the album, aside the music (not the vocals) on “Ordered Eastward”. “Berlin” is also a great track, even though it is a slower paced one and may get boring after a while. The fact that it has the sound of a depressing victory march in the music, as well as the guitar work, will definitely grab you.
One interesting thing about this release is that, at least here in the States, there is a bonus track on the album called “Insanity Commands”. This, too, is a great song that wasn’t really ruined by the vocals. The only problem is this bonus track doesn’t really seem to have much to do with the progression of this conceptual album, feeling moreso like a bonus track that just fit in at that spot. Honestly, if you did not obtain the CD with this bonus track, if you like it thusfar, it’s worth finding an MP3 site that carries it and shell a little out for the song.
So, while this supergroup has whipped up one hell of a CD, the problem is the vocals on this. Yes, they are done to match the style of earlier death metal acts but, for the most part, they are overdone and often clash with the music, making the song boring, and even repetative. If the band finds a vocalist that has a voice able to match the music, or at least someone willing to do songs in a deep gutteral tone, then we’re in business and have one hell of a death metal album on our hands. But, until then, this is just one of those CDs that had the potential, but only fell too short to being a great album.
01. Before The Storm (Barbarossa) – 2:00
02. Ordered Eastward – 4:42
03. The Lake Ladoga Massacre – 4:45
04. General Winter – 5:52
05. Advancing Once More – 5:07
06. Red Wolves Of Stalin – 5:06
07. Nachthexen – 4:25
08. The Crucial Offensive (19-11-1942, 7:30 AM) – 4:21
09. Stalingrad – 5:03
10. Insanity Commands (bonus track) – 4:41
11. Inferno At The Carpathian Mountains – 4:58
12. Berlin – 6:31
|Initial Pressing Score: 6.5/10