Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Hatchet - Dawn of the End


It’s not too often where you get introduced to a band during a live show that’s THIS good. When I saw Soilwork just last month with Jeff Loomis, Blackguard, and Bonded by Blood, there was one opening act that I had never heard of before that took me by surprise; a band by the name of Hatchet. Their musical style was obvious the instant the band walked on the stage. All of the members being skinny, having long hair, one with a Kreator shirt, one with a Megadeth shirt, one with an Edguy shirt, and their drummer simply wearing a black shirt with the sleeves torn off. Yes people, it appears that we have a thrash metal group on our hands. While they were tuning up and doing soundcheck, I went up to one of the biggest thrash metal fans of the greater Seattle area. He knows more about thrash (both old and new) than anyone I’ve ever met, and whenever theres a show with even ONE thrash metal band, there’s a 97% chance he will be there. So basically Hatchet is more or less your typical California thrash metal band. They’ve put out two albums (so they’re not too new), and they apparently have a hell of a bassist.

And to be honest, that almost sums up Hatchet. But remember, playing a genre in its pure and generic form isn’t always bad. In fact, thrash metal seems to be one of the genres with the largest number of generic bands that are still really fucking good! Even if a band is generic, they still have to have SOME unique qualities to set them apart from other bands. Hatchet’s most unique quality is the vocal style. The vocals seem to have two sides, the first side being a mid-ranged “yell” that isn’t completely belted out like Slayer or something like that. The other side is that the highs aren’t clean yells, they’re basically just really nasty screams, being very similar to the Exodus vocalist Rob Dukes. Except the difference between this guy and Rob is that Rob’s screams sound much more developed and mature. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing because Hatchet has only been around for about seven years, so obviously, the vocals are going to be a bit underdeveloped. Other than that, the vocals really add a unique twist to their sound, especially during their live performances.

Their song intros are really cool. On more than half of the tracks off the album, instead of going Slayer-style and just jumping right into the speed and brutality, Hatchet starts off with a slow, and often times melodic intro before going into the traditional thrash metal intro with one guitar playing and the rest of the band playing short blasts before everything goes in at full speed. The third track off the album is what exposes how amazing their bassist is. Behind the intro to Screams of the Night, you can hear the bassist playing one of the single best bass lines in thrash metal.

This is an issue that I have with thrash metal. Although I know that complex bass lines aren’t typically part of the thrash metal blueprint, when they ARE there, it makes the interest-factor skyrocket, especially when the bass riffs are creative and sound good. The bassist for Hatchet is almost always playing something different for the duration of the album, which is part of what made me fall for this album. It’s fucking fantastic! Everything that he plays not only fits the music, it also creates the right amount of contrast in all the right moments. The guitarists don’t really do anything that interesting, but when one of them breaks out into a solo, holy shit does the energy explode. Solos can always be good, but there’s just something about some guitar solos out there that causes all hell to break loose (huge circle pit anyone?).

The drummer is PERFECT for the style of music, but I’m not sure about him being over-the-top good. That’s another thing that I have trouble with in thrash metal, there aren’t enough drummers that are over-the-top great. But then again, it’s the generic and basic thrash drummers that make those fantastic drummers look even better. But overall, this is one of the best thrash metal albums that ISN’T by a legendary band that I’ve heard since 2009 when Havok released their debut, Burn. The quality is great, the band is extremely tight, the bassist is amazing, the guitar solos are exhilarating, and the vocals are unique. This is an album that I would recommend to any and all thrash metal fans. Dawn of the End gets a score of 17/20.