A regular feature in my review cycle over the past few years has been a new Hamerex release and after various demos, EP’s and last year’s ‘Rites Of Passage album, ‘IX’ (the ninth thing they have brought out) is this Yorkshire bands second full length release.
Whilst I think this band have greatly improved their arrangements and songs, we’ll go into that later, the production is still a little flat for me. I really want to hear these songs with a big production behind them, however, I would not say that it lowers the bands achievements or your listening experience, but what I am trying to say is that there is so much promise here especially when you consider the opening instrumental gambit that has me thinking great things. It has a tone and a feel that perfectly builds, in particular the synths, that flows into the true gem and proceeding track ‘The Life of Death’. These two tracks have me reminiscing of Maiden’s ‘Seventh Son of a Seventh Son’ release. Yeah I know, those are big shoes to fill, but honestly, the feel and the sounds are quite comparable and after about two and a half minutes…listen to the guitar riff and tell me that’s not Maiden inspired! Obviously the vocal is not comparable to that big album mentioned earlier as it is its usual harsh self, but I do hear through some of the remaining tracks stronger vocal harmonies appearing more frequently with the key lead vocal moving forward to become a behemoth in contrast to earlier releases by this band.
‘The Edge of Madness’ has a similar groove and appearance as another British band when they recorded as ‘Iron Knights’, it has that similar harsh but recognisable British metal groove that fulfils your desires. Hamerex also add an 80’s British thrash influence here in certain twists and turns of the track that also accumulates into a great solo, the same can be said of ‘Descent of Angels’ in terms of the UK thrash influence. ‘The Stranger’ is another traditional metal epic track, I really like the almost harmonising guitar tone over the acoustic section near the end of the track, but Hamerex save their real epic and longest track for ‘The Night of Samhain’. At over eleven minutes, it’s sometimes a risky business writing songs of such duration, but I didn’t get bored, they tell their tale masterfully and keep it real and real in terms of entertainment.
I am genuinely impressed with the improvement of Hamerex’s song writing, the arrangements and their obvious hard work has paid off and is showing fruit, but I would still like to hear this band behind a big studio production. That said, ‘IX’ is British metal without the bullshit and it is a cool release to celebrate nearly ten years in the business, which seems to be a rare achievement in these days.
(7/10 Paul Maddison)