There are scarce opportunities to review an album before it comes out, and, in my experience, the best way to really make use of these opportunities is to actually review the album, and not procrastinate until the record is out. Without further ado then, it’s time to take a listen to the second full length album by English traditional-metal stalwarts Hamerex, who, as far as I can tell, play a show every twenty-three seconds, and show no signs of slowing down.
It’s been quite a while since I last reviewed Hamerex. I took a look at their début full-length album something like a year or so ago now, and I’m definitely interested in returning to their material, both with them as a more mature band, and me as a more mature reviewer. While enjoyable, the previous album had some undeniable shortcomings, with haphazard production in many places, but to its credit, still managed to exude the feeling of being a labour of love. IX immediately proves itself to be a little bit more level and indeed more professional sounding, perhaps even a little more adventurous. The first track makes this quite clear, with prominent synth and steady riff-work with a much tighter sound than the at times slap-dash feel of the first record, and the impression that the band want to flirt with something a little more grandiose and ambitious. From a production related standpoint, the tone is still rather brick-walled in places, and it really wouldn’t surprise me if it was largely recorded in a bedroom, but nonetheless, the sound remains consistent throughout this time around. Stylistically, this second record is more of the same – traditional heavy metal for traditional heavy metal fans. As an aside, the presence of extreme metal in the scene often creates a feedback loop – there are certain bands who, whilst traditional metal in style, really exude the spirit of the underground. Cauldron, for instance, play metal which is as traditional as it comes, but you can still feel the blood of the darker, more extreme underground in their work, if not in musical influence, then in attitude. Hamerex, on the other hand, have the aura of traditional metal made by people who haven’t really explored the extreme side of things – in other words, fans of works like The Black Album. This is not, I must assert, a criticism, but merely an observation. Hamerex once again have created an album which is traditional metal made by, and for traditional metal people.
Fortunately, nothing of what I’ve said need by synonymous with boring; IX is, in fact, in fitting with my expectations, insofar as it goes down a very well trodden path, but certainly has a catchy tune or two, or dozen. The tracks certainly exude a catchy aura, and their mid-tempo trundling, at times groove-laden journey is certainly infectious enough to get stuck in my head as I listen.Indeed, whilst on a well trodden path, the music serves to remind the listener precisely why the path is well trodden in the first place; namely, because metal of this sort is fun, memorable, and easy to listen to – this is the sort of metal which a lot of people really enjoy, and, from time to time, that includes me. My head felt comfortable to nod throughout the listen, and while many of the riffs feel very lackadaisical with regards to tempo, never rising above a Sunday-drive drum beat, perhaps that’s how they’re meant to sound – certainly, the lack of tempo isn’t offensive to my taste at all – in fact, it’s fairly difficult to seriously dislike the record in any way, precisely due to this inoffensive sound – anyone who vaguely likes metal can find something to enjoy about it. There are, perhaps, grounds for citing “The AC/DC problem” with regards to the record, in that the album is inoffensive to the point of insipid, but I personally found the album to rise above that to an extent – certainly, the songs felt worth listening to, as opposed to boring. It’s not going to go down in the annals of history, perhaps, but damn it this album is just a bit of fun, and a bit of fairly good fun at that. The band have once again crafted an album out of the music they clearly love.
Heavy Metal Spotlight