Rites of Passage Review (Rocked ‘N’ Loaded)

Hamerex are an old school metal band hailing from Wakefield, UK. After several e.p’s and Demo’s they have released this, their first full length album ‘Rites of Passage’.

The album opens up with ‘Aftershocks of Death’ bast straight in with an intro section which could be found on any Thrash album during the early – mid 80’s (think Testament, Kreator etc), the song itself is very early Testament like in sound and style, some nice guitar riffs and the vocal styles of Chris Moules are nothing too different from Chuck Billy himself, with a Hetfield like groan mixed with thrashy screams and shouts. The song is a great headbanging way to introduce the band and album alike and will certainly take older metal fans back to the golden thrash days. ‘The Headless Horseman’ leads on from the opening track, again another dose of headbanging metal taken straight from the influences of this young metal band. The one thing i will comment on at this point is the production on this album, although not bad at all, some parts of the guitar solo comes off a little weak and maybe sounds as though not enough time was spent on the solo’s, its not a huge problem for the casual listener though to be honest.

‘Stalker’ is up next and is the song which the promo video was made for. this is the shortest song on the album, this isnt quite as fast paced as the previous 2 songs, but thats doesnt mean its not as good. The basic riffs in this song make for a good solid 3 minutes of metal, some of the guitar fills remind me of early Maiden at times, again Hamerex are not afraid to show off their influences. ‘Hypnotise’ is pure 80’s from the thrashy beginning which then cuts to a cool middle section with some clean vocals which remind me a hell of a lot of Gene Simmons from Kiss. back into the thrash section. This song for me is definitely one of the highlights of the album.

‘The Lycan’ & ‘Rites of Passage’ are 2 songs which really cut my opinion in 2, the songs themselves are very well written songs, but what lets them down are the clean vocal approach on them. Moules is a really good thrash styled vocalist when he sings in his grunty style voice as in the previous songs but there are certain parts of this song where his voice really doesn’t do him any justice, the idea’s are definitely there but the delivery is off , i think if the vocals were worked on more then there’s no doubt he could pull it off, i just feel it was a little rushed and a little out of tune in parts. The end section to ;Rites of passage’ is pretty col though, some parts are very Metallica like and some are very traditional Maiden styled which works well, but i think if the production was a little better than these 2 songs would have definitely shined a lot more.

‘Army of Darkness’ is another song which takes a clean vocal approach, but this song doesn’t suffer the same fate as the previous 2, the vocals here sound more Hetfield-esque rather than the power metal type voice which i think was aimed for on the previous. The song is a good basic metal song, which does its job with a catchy chugging riff, nothing too special but leaves you singing along afterwards. ‘To the end’  is back to the momentum of the first couple of songs on the album, which i think is where Hamerex’s real talent lies, the song reminds me of Slayer and again early Testament in parts without sounding like clones. ‘The Gates of Hades’  is one of the highlights for me on the album, the chug to this song really gets your foot tapping and your head banging, again the production sometimes seems a little sloppy in parts, but you have to remember bands such as Hamerex etc are trying to get their name out there and don’t have big money to spend on such luxuries, so  if you can get past small niggles like this, what you have is a fine old school metal song which even the older bands themselves struggle to write nowadays.

‘Waste Away’ closes the album, again its another nod to old school metal, which is all cool, but at times i really want the band to maybe explore some new boundaries, as obviously this type of metal was done around 30 years ago, this is not at all patronizing to the band as that’s clearly the style they’re going for, but i think if they tried to make it more their own and a little more modern sounding it would work wonders for the band, which i’m sure on future releases they may try to expand beyond this sound and try new idea’s.

All in all this is a pretty solid debut from the Yorkshire guys, and one i would definitely recommend if you like your music to headband too! Hopefully next time Hamerex can take all the awesome things from this album and make an even more impressive album, which i have no doubt they can do, but as a debut this one is bound to turn a few heads.

3.5/5

Paul Brady
Rocked ‘N’ Loaded
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