Not long after I first started working with The End Records I was turned onto a Bay Area Thrash Metal band named HATCHET and their just-released sophomore disc Dawn of the End. To say I was floored is putting it mildly. These guys had that vintage thrash sound from days of yore but with a modern-day badassness, much like their contemporaries in HAVOK and WARBRINGER, so it doesn’t sound stale or dated. In fact, after seeing them live/hanging/drinking with them on more than one occasion in Dallas I can safely say that HATCHET is just as exciting on and off the stage as they are on record.
Which brings us to the album many of us have been waiting for: Fear Beyond Lunacy, out October 30 on the very same label. With a new line-up behind him, vocalist/guitarist and founding member Julz Ramos sounds like a man on a mission to bring the band’s brand of kickass thrash to your ears by any means necessary. Opener “Living In Extinction” gets the ball rolling with killer riffs and some broad, sweeping solos, something the group always does very well. Clayton Cagle (guitar), Kody Barba (bass), and Ben Smith (drums) sound like they’ve been playing beside Ramos for years, most notably on “Lethal Injustice” up next. The tempo and groove made this an instant favorite months ago, and that hasn’t changed.
“In Fear We Trust” wades into traditional metal territory, with very much a NWOBHM feel and a sharp edge; something that always grabs my attention and it certainly warrants repeat listens. Speaking of riffs, the boner any guitar-lover will get from “Killing Indulgence” can probably shatter glass. Mine lasted longer than four hours and I still didn’t call a doctor because, you know, METAL!! The solo should take you to the promised land also. “Dead and Gone” is poised and ready to strike with yet another solo that rips through you while still keep the melody there. One of the speediest tracks on the disc is “Tearing Into Hell” (Mini-Amps’ favorite), and it feels like a continuation of the previous one, which is a great thing.
Once again I have to gush over the guitar work from Ramos and Cagle because “Prophet of Delusion” is practically a clinic in How to Play Thrash 101 and do it right! I can see heads banging everywhere when this one is played live on what I imagine will be a very extensive tour. Not to be outdone Smith and Barba are the straw that stirs the drink on “The World Beyond” as it grabs you and doesn’t let go for a second. Closing the record is a freshly redone version of “Frozen Hell” a track that originally appeared on debut Awaiting Evil. When all’s said and done the third time is clearly the charm for HATCHET, and Fear Beyond Lunacy should garner them scores of new fans once it’s unleashed. Me? I’ll just be over here eagerly awaiting word of their next Philly tour stop!!
STANDOUT TRACKS: “In Fear We Trust”, “Lethal Injustice”, “Killing Indulgence”, “Prophet of Delusion”, “Tearing Into Hell”