West country quintet Flayed Disciple’s début full length incorporates tracks found on their self titled and ‘Drawn Viscera’ EP s along with plenty of new tracks to keep existing fans happy. For those new to the band, they’re pitched somewhere between the heavier end of thrash and old school death metal – think of Slayer or Skeletonwitch with flashes of Dying Fetus and you’ll know exactly what ‘Death Hammer’ is all about. Combining the choppiness and chug of thrash with death metal open chord viciousness and vocals, along with plenty of machine gun snare abuse and blasting, the album – unsurprisingly – blisters along relentlessly.
‘Bring Down The Hammer’ starts the carnage and there’s very little let up through to ‘Pig’ which concludes the onslaught. Word of warning time though – tickle stomached fans shouldn’t leaf through the CD booklet for any length of time, or indeed check out the promotional videos, unless they’re used to ‘Reek Of Putrefaction’ era Carcass imagery or watch a lot of horror movies. Returning to the musical element swiftly then, there’s ten tracks, not a weak one amongst them, all suitably brutal with chaotic guitar solos and vocals that flit between growls and gutturals. It’s well played, the songs well constructed, and flows well.
So far, so good then? In general yes. One major problem though – the production, or more specifically I suspect the mastering, really lets it down. You really shouldn’t have to crank up an album of this type, and the bass levels, especially the kick drums, are way too low. Don’t get me wrong, ‘Death Hammer’ is still a very enjoyable listen, but it could – and should – have been absolutely crushing.
In conclusion, ‘Death Hammer’ is a more than acceptable first album and should serve Flayed Disciple well. Cannibal Corpse and Cattle Decapitation have laid down serious benchmark albums this year, which this album approaches, but the production really lets it down. Having witnessed them unleash their fury live, I’d recommend – stage clashes allowing – checking them out in the Sophie Lancaster tent at this year’s Bloodstock festival to fully appreciate what this band are all about. They’ve clearly got potential to deliver a killer album or two somewhere down the line, so I’d suggest keeping an eye on them as their career progresses.
7 out of 10