Company: Hell's Headbangers Release: 2014 Genre: Traditional Reviewer: Eric Compton
100% heavy metal
King Fowley, Jim Hunter, and Brian "Hellstorm" Williams have been making October 31 music for nearly twenty years. It's an astonishing feat considering today's poverty ridden sales standard and most labels' complete disregard for traditional metal. However, the DIY business model has worked perfectly for King Fowley's crews for decades. The touring, international appearances and recordings seemingly never end, making this bunch of "rivet heads" a very important brick in the underlining foundation of US metal.
'Bury the Hatchet', via Hell's Headbangers, is the group's fifth studio album to date and first for new drummer Sean Wilhide and guitarist Matt Ibach (ex-Burning Shadows). The album was recorded at Oblivion Studios by King Fowley and engineered by Mike Bossier. The album is described by Fowley as "100% heavy metal, nothing more and nothing less", and that statement reverberates throughout these ten tracks.
Triumphant opening statement "Turn up the night and light up the stage for the time has finally come" sets the tone for the fast and furious opener "Tear Ya Down". Fowley's signature storytelling is prevalent throughout, notably on tracks two, three and five, "Bury the Hatchet", "Down at Lovers Lane" and "House Where Evil Dwells". "Bury…" is the quintessential horror tale set at mid-tempo. An escaped mental patient murders an elderly lady on Halloween night. The song's start-and-stop rhythms provide rich atmosphere, thickly veiled with a nearly whispered "Demons Night" bridge and demonic vocal chants of "Bury the Hatchet". "Down at Lovers Lane" is a faster version of the old "hook hand" folk tale. It's interesting to hear Fowley's spoken court-room narrative midway, the whole thing adjourned by the soaring leads from Williams and Ibach. "House…" (based on the '82 film?) is another spooky entry with a thick atmosphere and some slower "cleaner" singing from Fowley. The track builds momentum until the 2:50 mark and then hits a Maiden-style run.
While it is easy to become submerged in the atmospheric writing and effects, the album is firmly enrolled in the "true as steel" prophetic order. "Growing Old" has a bit of the "Powerhouse" vibe, a charging quick paced cut that proves to be an album highlight. The band shows off a perfect rendition of Icon's "Under My Gun" (I wish they chose "World War") and the album closes with the headlong rush of "Angel Dusted".
"Bury the Hatchet" continues the band's dominant legacy. The album is the efficacious remedy for today's lackluster attempts at re-creating the vintage sound. This isn't retro, it isn't a throwback. October 31 was, is, and always will be defiant and genuine in their purpose and planning.
We can praise Iommi for making metal. We can thank God that Fowley delivers it.
About this Writer: Eric Compton // Eric Compton lives in the most haunted city in the world, St. Augustine, Florida with his family and two yorkies. He has served as senior editor for MaximumMetal.com for nearly 10 years and is the author of the heavy metal book series--Denim & Letters. His reviews, interviews and social commentary has been featured on websites like Brave Words, Blabbermouth, Metal Temple, Metal Rules, Ultimate Metal, Metal Maniacs and Wikipedia.
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