NYC former hardcore blackened-thrash lords, Black Anvil, have returned to the fray with their newest release, “Hail Death”, a blistering and original offering to the gods of the dark side. “Hail Death” is a fun release, oddly pretty in parts, and always, always heavy. The opening track of the album, “Still Reborn,” offers a glimpse of the multiple aspects of the music yet to come; clocking in at just over nine minutes, it combines pretty broken-chord melodies with thunderous blast beats and sets the stage nicely for the rest of the album’s output.
The band’s hardcore past also infiltrates “Hail Death”, becoming particularly noticeable in the chanted parts in “Redemption Through Blood” and “N.” The former is a favorite of mine on the album; it’s the most black metal, utilizing the tri-tone frequently. However, the substantial hardcore influence lends the track an interesting texture. Twenty-five years ago, hardcore in black metal would have been blasphemy, but Black Anvil shows once again that the two styles can be mixed to result in a different kind of darkness.
As I mentioned before, “Hail Death” is certainly not lacking for pretty parts, which I had not been expecting on the album. The opening of “Seven Stars Unseen” features pretty broken chords that remind me of stars twinkling, and parts of “Next Level Black” are flat out gorgeous! However, lest you think that Black Anvil has lost their bite, the harshness is still very much there; the aforementioned song picks up considerably in the second half, and “Eventide” has a riff at 4:06 that is thrashy as hell.
The bonus track on the album, “Under the Rose,” is not my favorite. Bonus tracks are hit or miss sometimes, I find, and this KISS cover just doesn’t do it for me. The opening broken chord sounds a lot like Van Halen’s “Panama,” which throws me, and then I’m just not crazy about the sung vocals or the track in general.
In terms of production, the album is pretty standard; I can hear the bass at times, so the treble doesn’t drown the low end out completely (which is always nice in metal tinged with black). Overall, though, the mix feels very balanced, while the artwork is gorgeous, reminding me of cover art in the vein of Watain album covers. The blackletter font gives the cover a distinct black metal feel, the gold contrasting nicely with the black and white. Also, the symmetry adds a lot to the occult look of the album.
I really like “Hail Death”, and I’m glad I picked it for a review. Black Anvil does a beautiful job of blending black metal and hardcore to make a tasty blackened-thrash cocktail in their newest album, once again emphasizing to naysayers the close kinship of metal and punk.