Hail Of Bullets - ...Of Frost And War
Metal Blade
Death Metal
12 songs (57:31)
Release year: 2008
Hail Of Bullets, Metal Blade
Reviewed by Goat

Old-schoolers, this one’s for you. Formed as a result of the members’ mutual love for the classic days of Death Metal, Hail Of Bullets sound almost exactly like a drinking session between Entombed and Bolt Thrower. Of course, that’s immediately doing the band a disservice, as the music presented here is little short of fantastic, far from the sloppy jam that you’d expect of something arising from alcohol. The Dutch five-piece are all veterans of the scene - from frontman Martin van Drunen’s time with Pestilence, Asphyx and of course Bolt Thrower to drummer Ed Warby of Gorefest - making …Of Frost And War, a concept album about the German defeat on the eastern front during World War II, far, far more than a mere tribute.

Not that Death Metal has never tackled war as a subject before, but this particular war and all the horror, misery and pointless deaths synonymous with it make the perfect topic. The icy atmosphere conjured up by the simple yet crushing riffs of the guitars would be enough, but it’s the little touches like tanks inexorably trundling towards the battlefield placed perfectly in the intro and first track proper Ordered Eastward, and the harsh crack of rifles in Red Wolves Of Stalin, that put you in the heart of the action. Also of course, there’s Martin van Drunen, whose performance is simply stunning. His terrified howl is very effective, bringing to mind a young soldier frightened to madness by what he is witnessing. It might take a bit of getting used to, especially for listeners used to the slick barks of the new school, but it’s the most impassioned performance on a Death Metal album that I’ve heard for a long time.

The result is an album that grips like few other of its ilk. Yes, seasoned headbangers will have heard it all before, but few can deny the raw power that seethes at the band’s heart. From the classical intro Before The Storm to the epic finale of Berlin, every note on this album is damn near perfect, designed to grip you in its frostbitten claws and not let go until either the album’s finished or you get permanent neck damage. It beats last year’s superb effort from Entombed, and with Bolt Thrower currently delaying the recording of their new album due to a refusal to release material that doesn’t match up to 2005’s Those Once Loyal it looks like we’ll be waiting a while before the British veterans produce a new album. In the meantime, …Of Frost And War is a gut-wrenching, heart-stopping, piledriver of an album that deserves a place in any honest Death Metalhead’s collection.

MySpace
Killing Songs :
Ordered Eastward, General Winter, Advancing Once More, Red Wolves Of Stalin, Inferno At The Carpathian Mountains
Goat quoted 85 / 100
Other albums by Hail Of Bullets that we have reviewed:
Hail Of Bullets - On Divine Winds reviewed by Goat and quoted 84 / 100
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