Hammerhawk - Break Loose - 2006 - Rusty Cage Records
1. Discovery 2. One By One 3. High Score 4. Chinatown Braindamage 5. Low Rider 6. White Hot Steel 7. Run For Your Freedom (Live) 8. Steel
Rusty Cage Records is a relatively new company based in Holland that re-releases old material from underground Benelux 80's metal bands. They do have also have a few younger bands on their roster, such as the promising Obsidian, but for the most part they focus on the past. As a result, they provide some remarkable finds that previously were only available on metal blogs and torrent sites. They also supply some extremely pedestrian material that somehow gains the status of 'hidden gem'.
Such is the case with Hammerhawk and their 1984 debut EP 'Break Loose', reissued here with bonus tracks. After this release, Hammerhawk would eventually release a full-length, albeit in the next decade, and ultimately disband in 2003 with a relatively miniscule discography.
'Break Loose' opens with 'Discovery', a largely unremarkable homage to the Scorpions that lacks the blues soul of the early material and the stadium-rock vibrancy that followed. Still, this EP may have been able to save itself from the doldrums with a better vocalist, but after 'Discovery's introduction sets up what should be a skyscraping vocal performance, vocalist/bassist Thijs reveals himself to be only a poor copy of Lemmy Kilmister. This derivative formula may have worked for them then, but no longer. Motörhead and Scorpions are towering icons of rock and Hammerhawk's garage-rock nostalgia is not enough to give them an edge.
To be fair and with all skepticism aside, some elements of 'Break Loose' are just fun to listen to, such as the bouncing and careless 'High Score' or the highlight 'Chinatown Braindamage', which recalls early Iron Maiden instrumentals. And, for what it's worth, the record's sound quality is much better than one would expect for a low-budget debut EP. Yet, in the end, Hammerhawk still comes across as only a spirited cover band, drawing from the success of others to add to their own.
It seems, sometimes, that a band's lack of fame in their own era contributes to their notoriety and resurgent success in this era. While in some cases it is by all means warranted, in this situation Hammerhawk's 'Break Loose' offers up nothing new to celebrate, despite its occasional perks.
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