Review by Rick Ossian
On first listen to Ragehammer‘s first full-length outing, I have to admit that I was NOT impressed. Of course, I’ve never heard their 2012 demo War Hawks. Nor have I ever heard their split earlier this year, Enlightenment by Bloodletting. You should also know that this kind of Metal is not particularly my cuppa. If you like indiscernible vocals, instruments that unfortunately get lost in the mix, etc., then perhaps this is yours. I do not know. I am merely the conduit between these fellows and you, the reader/potential listener. These metallurgic fellows are from Poland, and they are Corpsebutcher on bass, Mortar on drums, Bestial Avenger on guitar and Heretik Hellstorm on vocals. It is fairly easy to see why they wouldn’t use their own names… but then, THAT is another story, and though my opinion may not matter to some, THAT is why we are here. Let’s move on, shall we?
The tunes are not what’s to blame here. The mix is mainly to blame, and the fact the vocals can’t really be deciphered. Again, this is my opinion. I’m sure that in their native Poland they are the next best thing to creamery butter and homemade bread. I, unfortunately, have heard far too many outings just like this. Speed for the sake of speed does NOT make good Metal, I’m afraid.
Take the opening number, for example. First Wave Black Metal starts out with feedback, drums and guitar – in that order. Now, normally, I would say they have the makings of a great tune. However, this free-for-all, frantic, frenzied mess is just that – messy. They are no doubt busy, and the shouting vocals sound as if they have genuine purpose. There are some good moments, as well – the guitar breakdown/shift at three minutes in, and the guitar solo at 3:45 features some serious shredding. Other than that, there is nothing much to say about this track.
Unleash the Dogs boasts a heavy, riffing intro, which gives way to an uptempo slammer. The vocals, predictably enough, are rough again, and some are discernible, but most are not. The drums are very busy, but unfortunately for the most part get lost in the mix. What a shame! Close finds some big feedback thrown our way, but that is the highlight of the tune.
Wrog features lots of riffing, and is another toe-tapper. Definitely a speedy number, with a busy drummer. The vocals are muddy at best.
Warlord’s Fall, with a drum intro and a very heavy assault, could be a great song. Just check out the title! It makes you think, maybe… Again, there is lots of screaming going on, and the players are extremely busy. Sometimes it takes more than that to make a song. The shift at 2:30 gives way to some heavy, sludgy riffs, almost a Bluesy Black Metal/Thrash. At four minutes in we get another drum and bass attack, and an unholy wicked scream at 4:40.
Knives, at six-and-a-half minutes, is the longest track on board. There is more screaming, and some serious bass and drums again. There is a shift and a lead guitar bit at 3:30, and a stab at some clean vocals at 4:30. There are what I would perceive to be some mixing problems again with this tune. Towards the close, the bass player shows off again. That may be the highlight within this one.
I Am the Tyrant is a five-minute ditty which is impressive for the pure speed of presentation alone. However, when it’s obvious that this is their only real foundation for the track, one may tend to lose interest. I know I did. Sorry. Lots of worthy instrumentation again, and lots of screaming. Moving on!
Pure Hatred has what could be another promising beginning that quickly falls into speed for the sake of speed. The bass player is at it again, that may be their trump card, if you like. More indiscernible vocals, and a bright spot with the guitar at three minutes in. However, it is not enough to save this one. There is another super-speedy guitar bit at 3:50.
From Homo Sapiens to Homo Raptor should win cool points for its title alone. Then we hear it, and it is, unfortunately, more of the same. Mr Hellstorm tries to save his soul briefly, trying to sing some clean vocals at around the four-minute mark. He should have saved his breath. There is a decent jam at the three-minute mark.
The closer, Spotkanie z Diablem (“Meeting With the Devil“) is actually a cover of Poland’s Krzystof Klenczon i Trzy Korony, and is most likely the high point of this set. There is a heavy instrumental intro and a jamming midsection. However, the evil laugh(s), one at 2 minutes in, and one at the close, could have been better. MUCH better. Just saying.