Sunday, January 29, 2012

Brutal. Thrash. Attack. Demolition Hammer's Epidemic of Violence is One of My Favorite Records of All Time (1992)

One of the best cover arts known to man.
Smash your skull. Beat your face in. Mosh 'til death. Demolition Hammer lived by the rule of vicious speed. The Bronx-based thashers were late to the thrash party, releasing their first full-length in 1990, but they proved to be faster, heavier, and more ferocious than those that came before them, making death metal look meager on several occasions. While Tortured Existence is a classic in and of itself, Epidemic of Violence is the record that perfected the Demolition Hammer formula and cemented their place in metal history. Like it or not, the album is heralded as a template for barbaric thrash and callous music. Lyrics mercilessly punch you in the face with ruthless and savage word choice. Yet, they're still carefully chosen in regards to elegant rhyme scheme. Flow was key for the band's music, and even a few spooky, medically-inspired lyrics aren't going to interrupt that. And in case you were wondering, Demolition Hammer has been split up for quite some time now.

But that's beside the point. Their music is just as legendary as the day it hit shelves. Few bands (and even fewer thrash acts) have reached the level of brutality Demolition Hammer achieved, confirming my initial thoughts upon hearing Epidemic of Violence years ago: don't play this this for weak-hearted. Thrash riffs pushed to the extreme make up the majority of the record's meat, often transforming into full on death metal riffs. Although death metal was without a doubt alive and well in 1992, Demolition Hammer was still key to the genre's development and furthered thrash metal into the decade following the '80s when most bands were going kaput. Thus, brutal thrash was born.


Musically, the record is a nice mix of thrash and death metal with added emphasis on thrash. Vocals appear in the form of a bloodcurdling roar - powerful, yet perfectly controlled and refined for the subgenre. Honestly, they wouldn't feel out of place on an early death metal album when vocalists were still testing the water with growling. They aren't the rugged, deep bellow most death metal vocalists favor these days, but rather akin to that of early Morbid Angel. Guitars ruthlessly assault you with staccato alternate picked riffs and speed-focused passages. Epidemic of Violence never has a dull moment and you habitually wrestle to keep up with the music. The real champion, however, is the drumming, which can only be accredited to the legendary Vinny Daze. Sadly, Vinny is no longer with us, but his unrelenting velocity will always be remembered, especially his skilled double bass rolls.

Highlights include (though the whole album is a highlight) the title track, "Human Dissection," "Pyroclastic Annihilation," "Carnivorous Obsession," and the amazing "Aborticide."

Not to cut the post short, but it's been surprisingly hard to place my thoughts concerning one of my favorite records. But that's how the cookie crumbles sometimes: you're so wrapped up in the sheer awesomeness a collection of music offers that the brain goes into a music coma. I'm quite partial to the music coma myself because it lets me enjoy my favorite albums without analyzing them consciously. I'm sure Demolition Hammer wouldn't have it any other way either - lyrically, the band would agree with my dilemma.

Indeed, 1992 was a good year.
The Metal Advisor

2 comments:

  1. You make a good point re: the vintage of the music. While lots continued underground, to be sure, any metal that survived - let alone thrived - thru the 90s when "alt rock" damn near suffocated anything else, is bound to be something special. I grabbed Tortured Existence based on your blog - now it appears I need to flesh out the collection.

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  2. Epidemic of Violence is a step above the debut. Essential to any metal collection.

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