Album review: HAIL OF BULLETS – III: The Rommel Chronicles

Metal Blade – Out Now.

Being both a huge Metal fan and a passionate historian with a particular fascination for all things WWII meant that I was hooked immediately back in 2006 on the old-school Death Metal quintet Hail Of Bullets.

With legendary vocalist Martin van Drunen (ex-Pestilence, Asphyx) once again on top form, the band has recently released its third full-length album “III: The Rommel Chronicles”; so what is now left to establish is how well this new album fares when compared to its hugely impressive predecessors.

Those of you who, like I, are already proud owners of the band’s previous studio releases “…Of Frost And War” and “On Divine Winds” understand very well how ‘riff-o-centric’ the band’s interpretation of Death Metal is and their latest musical offering is more of the same in this respect.

Rather than trying to appeal to a wider audience by polishing their sound and becoming more trend-orientated, what the guitar duo Stephan Gebedi/ Paul Baayens chose to do instead was to inject their simply-crafted, straight-forward old-school riffs with as much passion and energy as possible and have worked towards presenting their fans with a guitar sound worthy of their rich musical legacies. Have they succeeded? I certainly think so.

It literally takes half a minute for the main riff of the groove laden “Swoop Of The Falcon” to let you know that this new Hail Of Bullets albums means serious business! Featuring numerous head banging riffs, but operating on pretty varied rhythms, the appeal of compositions like “Pour Le Merite”, “DG-7” and “To The Last Breath Of Man And Beast” is strong and instant, while the band’s Doom Metal pedigree is manifested in the Bolt Thrower influenced “DAK”.

Straight forward and rhythmically adventurous in equal measure, “The Desert Fox”, “Tobruk” and “Farewell To Africa”  will leave you thoroughly entertained, while the up-tempo riff of “The Final Front” will seriously test your head banging skills.

As far as closing themes are concerned, no other song could be as appropriate as the five and a half minute “Death Of A Filed Marshal” – a song whose mournful lead guitar melody and growling vocals are of the utmost quality.

Hail Of Bullets may not be the most innovative of bands when it comes to approaching and crafting Death Metal tunes, but they are in possession of two very important gifts – the knowledge and talent to create compositions that are simple in structure, but enormous in their appeal.

A product of a simple but truly winning formula, “III: The Rommel Chronicles” in an album that certainly deserves to bare the band’s name on its cover and is a worthy addition to the Dutch outfit’s steadily-expanding discography.

John Stefanis

Rating: **** (4.0/5.0)

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