Hamerex have been around for awhile now, formed in the UK in 2004 by guitarist Steve Blower. IX is the band’s second LP and features a varied collection of songs that reflect numerous influences. Suffice to say, Hamerex have assimilated the rich heritage of their native UK, which is most pronounced in the band’s devotion to classic NWOBHM. Combined with that is a generous mix of early US metal, inflections of speed metal and thrash, as well as a modest amount of prog. IX is comprised of ten worthy tunes clocking in at a little over 50 minutes.
The opener “IX Circles” is a nifty instrumental, heads down and mid-moshed to the end, the guitars synched to a nice chug. Vocalist Chris Moules introduces himself on the second track, “The Life Of Death”, another NWOBHM mosher. Moules’s vocals remind me of Mike Munro of Meliah Rage, and indeed there are hints of Maiden here also, as the middle break features harmonized guitars executed cleanly and precisely. Listen closely and you will hear all kinds of influence seeping through this pure metal album. “Edge Of Madness” is one such tune that leans towards early Speed Metal, a song that would certainly crack a smile and knowing nod of appreciation from any fan of Anvil. Album closing, semi-ballad “Still The Wall Remains” reveals some depth in the bands song writing, as Moules unleashes an inspired harmonized low/high vocal. Despite the many influences, the band has imprinted their own stamp on affairs, particularly in the stripped down and unpretentious sound and production that only serves to help solidify the band’s commitment to ye olde metal.
While refreshing in many ways, the production also sounds a bit primitive, reminiscent of Metal Blade’s early days, in particular the Hallows Eve’s albums. The band cites Metallica as an influence, and it is clear that …AND JUSTICE FOR ALL must have been their favorite. Like JUSTICE, the songs and album overall are a bit long for this style of music, the band channeling some inner progressive tendencies by piecing together more riffs than necessary. No question though, the compact songs are definitely the ones that seem to serve the band’s mid-paced meat and potatoes style best. I love the catchy and economical riffs driven by pulsing bass and fort-holding drums. Moule’s vocals are perfect, hearkening back to a golden and oft-forgotten era. Fans of Meliah Rage, Anvil, Iron Maiden and NWOBHM will enjoy Hamerex, as will fans that are looking for simple head-banging metal without all the complications to go along with frothy ale.