Monday, August 10, 2015

Deathhammer - Evil Power

Written by Andy Osborn.

Artwork by Eduard Johnson

Show No Mercy is the best Slayer album. While the battle for the top spot usually rages between the unholy trio of Reign in Blood, South of Heaven, and Seasons in the Abyss -- occasionally a vocal minority will claim that Hell Awaits is indeed the victor -- everyone who believes this is just plain wrong. The youthful energy and hellish passion of Slayer’s debut, their answer to Metallica’s Kill ‘Em All, is the most enduring and entertaining piece of work in their entire catalog.

This was long before the days when they started to take themselves seriously, hit the bottle too hard, and ultimately become a self-parody which unfortunately lumbers on to this day. With their debut, Slayer perfected Venom’s style and imagery, but had the added benefit of actually being able to play their instruments and write memorable songs. Sure, the performances can be sloppy and the lyrics laughable, but that’s part of what makes it so endearing. They were forging a new path and having a blast along the way.

Photo © John Mourlas. All rights reserved.

A few decades later, Deathhammer’s Evil Power hits this same sweet spot. That their style has been done to death and undeniably perfected long ago makes this third album from the demonic Norwegians less than unique, but that hardly has an effect on the nostalgia trip. The furious back and forth riffing of Sergeant Salsten and Sadomancer is just as good as the Kerry-Hanneman early days and at times even more fun and ridiculous. Salsten, also holding vocal duties, does his best ‘Tom Araya just out of puberty’ impression, bringing his voice to a ball-busting screech as often as humanly possible. The whole thing is a smile-inducing, goofy blur, and I love every second of it.

Photo © John Mourlas. All rights reserved.

The blistering leads are pulled off with a wonderfully sloppy elegance. Ever-changing, little is recycled and the songs are short and to the point; other than the wonderfully self-indulgent solos there’s not a moment of filler. Like most of their Hell’s Headbangers brethren, Deathhammer are are obsessed with overt satanic imagery and lyrics. But they clearly don’t take themselves too seriously, to which the cartoon Dark Lord on the album cover can attest.

Evil Power will never be as important or remembered as Show No Mercy. But by harnessing the same attitude -- “Fuck it, let’s thrash and worship Satan!” -- while writing undeniably fun, riff-centric music, Deathhammer prove that there’s nothing wrong with a proper homage; even 30 years later.

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Tagged with 2015, Andy Osborn, Deathhammer, Hells Headbangers Records, John Mourlas, thrash metal
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