Saturday, March 16, 2013

Hatchet - Dawn of the End

It is crazy to think just how good things were looking for thrash 5 years ago. There were signs of a thrash resurgence prior to 2008 (Municipal Waste, Toxic Holocaust), but it wasn’t until then that it seemed like bands were popping up left and right. Within a span of months, great albums from Warbringer, Bonded By Blood, and Gama Bomb, among others, were released. One of those other releases was “Awaiting Evil” by Hatchet. Despite what anyone else has said about it, “Awaiting Evil” has always been one of my favourite thrash albums. From the haunting opener, right until the end, it was a feast of riffs, great guitar solos, and just old-school thrash. In many respects, however, it was clear that this was still a new band. The production was lacking, and the music felt raw. After 5 long years and a mostly new lineup, Hatchet are back with “Dawn of the End”, a more mature, yet equally great thrash record.

The first difference you’ll notice between “Dawn of the End” and its predecessor is the huge improvement in the production. It is louder, but also a lot tighter. The rhythm section really stands out; in particular, the heaviness of the bass drums becomes quite prominent. The guitars sound good, but you won’t be paying attention to how they sound, but rather, the sheer number of riffs. Each song has riff after riff of high-quality thrashing. If you haven’t heard Hatchet before, you’ll notice that many of their riffs make use of similar, yet unique intervals in the notes they choose to accent (in the sense that these riffs are similar to each other, but unique compared to other bands). This tactic makes their riffs easy to recognize and very memorable. The most impressive riff is the main one in “Fall From Grace”.  This riff demonstrates why you don’t need to fill every second of a song with sound. It would be unfair to call it a “start-stop” riff, but it definitely leaves room to breathe. Much like the other great songs on this record, “Fall From Grace” is driven by the gang vocals in the chorus. With the exception of “After The Dark” and “Revelations of Good and Evil” (both instrumentals), all of the songs on “Dawn of the End” are fairly straightforward. This makes the record easy to follow, and allows you to be blown away by the shredding of Julz Ramos. His solos sound much like they did on the debut; they have a certain instantly recognizable quality to them, as they make use of similar scales and sweep picking patterns. Julz has also now taken over on vocals. He really doesn’t sound too different from prior singer Marcus Kirchen; he uses a low, snarling thrash shout. While he isn’t the best singer of the new wave, he definitely stands out and adds to the ferocity of the music.

Ultimately, Hatchet has released an uncompromising thrash album. “Dawn of the End” is one of the most rhythmically charging albums of the year, and the band has made considerable effort to make each song stand out. I can’t help but feel if this had come out a few years ago, these guys would have kept pace with Warbringer and Evile. The good news is that this album doesn’t disappoint, and is the thrash album of the year at the moment!

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"Fall From Grace"
"Signals of Infection"
"Vanishing Point"

Final Rating
4.4/5 or 88%. 

Written by Scott