Witches Hammer - Damnation Is My Salvation
Nuclear War Now! Productions
Thrash Metal
8 songs (31:41)
Release year: 2020
Nuclear War Now! Productions
Reviewed by Goat

Canadian hellraisers Witches Hammer were originally formed in 1984 and only managed to release a few demos and an EP before calling in quits in 1990. After working with Nuclear War Now! Records to re-release their early work, guitarist Marco Banco (Tyrant's Blood, ex-Blasphemy) and vocalist Ray Prizmic decided to reform the band with a new line-up and Witches Hammer here present their debut album, thirty-odd years after forming! It's a particularly violent form of thrash/speed metal, opener Across Azeroth storming in with a barrage of steel closer to Azarath than your more typical thrashers, although the widdly, screeching solo and frequent riff changes places this squarely alongside the likes of Demolition Hammer and Ares Kingdom. There's quite a melange of sounds, however, Possessed-esque galloping death metal audible alongside other underground influences like black metal and even a bit of 80s grind here and there (Solar Winds' short, sharp shock, for instance, is a real highlight that alone could sell the band).

The overwhelming effect is that of a furious thrash machine, like early Exodus sped up and intensely channelled into your ears. Even relatively mid-paced material, such as the opening section of the title track, soon speeds up into a relentless surge of energy that's more complex and structured than it may seem on initial listens and every single shorter piece like Frozen God has melodic frills to counterpoint the thrashing violence. There's definitely more variety between songs than you'd think for this sort of metal, and at just over half an hour the band definitely don't outstay their welcome. The sheer amount of riffs packed into the likes of Within the Halls and Deadly Mantis is terrific and means that it's genuinely hard to pick standout tracks, because they're all great. Witches Hammer even manage to make a longer track work, the nearly seven-minute finale Nine Pillars, which does lean towards a slower, more grandiose style initially with some muffled spoken vocals before turning into a chuggy riffathon with plenty of lead widdling.

It doesn't come close to breaking new ground yet even so, if this album had come out in 1984 it would be a stone-cold classic without question! When compared against the modern scene, this is still a great album. Sometimes you just have to throw your hands up and recommend an album in simple terms; Witches Hammer rule. How could Damnation... not be a terrific album, after so long in the making? The band are firing on all cylinders, the writing is on point, the metal simply demands that you bang your head. Listen and buy this at Bandcamp.

(apparently that is a Canadian speed metal swirl on the cover art as opposed to a sunwheel. No, I hadn't heard of it either, but you learn something new every day!)

Killing Songs :
Not a weak track present
Goat quoted 85 / 100
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