Hail Of Bullets - On Divine Winds
Metal Blade
Death Metal
11 songs (48:03)
Release year: 2010
Hail Of Bullets, Metal Blade
Reviewed by Goat

It was a pleasant surprise to see the widespread popularity and praise for WWII-themed old-school Death Metal supergroup Hail Of Bullets after their impressive 2008 debut, and they’re back with a slight shift in historical focus but with much the same quality. Looking towards the East for an album that opens with the Pearl Harbour attacks and ends with a demoralised, defeated, and disgraced Japan, On Divine Winds continues along the same Bolt Thrower-meets-Entombed route as its predecessor. Which is a good thing, obviously, and those expecting some progress from the band’s curmudgeonly old-school sound are likely to be disappointed, although how anyone could listen to the epic Operation Z and be disappointed is beyond me. Bolt Thrower had a real skill for simultaneously summing up the glory and horror of warfare, and Hail Of Bullets have this too, ensuring that not just the shock and fear of Japan’s surprise attack on America is felt, but something of an action movie thrill, too.

And thrills come a-plenty. The coruscating The Mukden Incident (a Japanese railroad was dynamited, leading to the invasion of Manchuria) has some wonderfully grandiose guitarwork from Thanatos’ Paul Baayens and Stephan Gebedi, at the top of their game. Hard to resist is the necksnapping catchiness of Strategy Of Attrition, detailing the Japanese invasion of China complete with rapes and decapitations, or the Doomy Full Scale War, the high point as ‘Nippon reigns supreme’. Van Drunen’s performance is as gripping here as on ...Of Frost And War, despite going from mentally tormented soldier to shellshocked storyteller, and he makes Japan’s rise as compelling as its downfall, beginning with their defeat at Guadalcanal and continuing through Tokyo Napalm Holocaust, up until the closing To Bear The Unbearable, where a nation ideologically opposed to shameful defeat had to face just that.

I enjoyed On Divine Winds, the opportunity to remind myself of the history as much as the Death Metal. Van Drunen’s lyrics are very enjoyable and interesting, and even manage to make the whole thing somewhat educational! There could probably be a lengthy discussion about whether On Divine Winds is actually better than its predecessor or not – after careful consideration and listening to both, I’d have to just call it for ...Of Frost And War. That, of course, doesn’t mean that this album can be ignored. With a large Bolt Thrower-shaped hole in the metal world at the moment due to their continuing admirable yet annoying lack of new material, Hail Of Bullets have stepped into the breach with aplomb. A fascinating BBC article I read a few days back about a daring military intelligence operation (it’s here if you’re curious) was a good reminder about the sheer depth of WWII material that’s still available for Hail Of Bullets to plunder in the name of Death Metal – long may they continue to do so, if the results are this good.

Killing Songs :
Operation Z, The Mukden Incident, Strategy Of Attrition, Tokyo Napalm Holocaust
Goat quoted 84 / 100
Other albums by Hail Of Bullets that we have reviewed:
Hail Of Bullets - ...Of Frost And War reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 100
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