After the lengthy 5-year wait between Hatchet’s debut and sophomore releases, “Fear Beyond Lunacy” crept up quickly. Fortunately, the band instantly makes up for lost time, as “Living In Extinction” starts the thrashing off in a good way after a short intro. Though the band’s approach is fairly standard when it comes to thrash, Hatchet has a very unique riffing style. You can always identify their riffs by the absolutely furious downpicking (with the occasional gallop, as “Living In Extinction” shows), which sporadically culminates with some higher pitched notes towards the end of the riff. Another song where Hatchet obliterates the dreams of amateur rhythm guitarists is “Killing Indulgence”, where the band throws some faster alternate picking into the end of the main riff. While Hatchet certainly isn’t the fastest band around, they’re rhythmically punishing because every song moves at a speedy tempo and does not let up at any point. Whereas the previous album had an interlude in the middle, once “Fear Beyond Lunacy” gets heavy, it simply does not stop.
In addition to the band’s distinctive riffs, they can also be identified by the shredding of mainman Julz Ramos. He makes use of tons of sweep picking, and while none of his solos are derivative of his previous work, he definitely has some common patterns he favours. The band also utilizes plenty of harmonized guitar sections, sometimes in solos (“Living In Extinction”), sometimes just outside of them (“Lethal Justice”), and sometimes in most of the riffs of a particular song (“In Fear We Trust”). Part of the reason that it’s easy to mention so many songs is because Hatchet excels at writing great songs. Even without a metronome, I’m certain that most of these songs are at the exact same tempo, and yet, they’re all distinctive in their own way. “The World Beyond” is a highlight because it shows exactly how gang vocals are best utilized in thrash. “Dead And Gone” is both a complete rager, and extremely catchy.
The hardest song to evaluate on “Fear Beyond Lunacy” is the re-recording of “Frozen Hell”. I’m happy to say that I bought their first album shortly after its release in 2008, and for a long time, “Awaiting Evil” was the only Hatchet I had to listen to. Despite the different singer and weaker production, that record does have its own charm. The re-recording certainly accentuates the improvement in those two areas: Julz is a better singer, and the production is now much thicker and heavier. Still, every time this album finishes, I immediately want to go put on “Awaiting Evil” simply because “Frozen Hell” rules so much. I’d chalk it up to nostalgia, but it doesn’t really matter because Hatchet is 3/3 in terms of putting out great records. “Fear Beyond Lunacy” is as enjoyable as their previous work, and is also a great place to start for anyone new to the band!
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"Living In Extinction"
"Dead And Gone"
"The World Beyond"
4.5/5 or 90%.
Written by Scott