Two years ago I reviewed Hamerex’s album IX, which ended up being a quite decent album. THE LAST RIDE is the newest offering from this UK band, being a four-song EP to fill the gap while Hamerex finishes the writing for a follow-up full length to IX. Biggest change this time is that previous singer Chris Moules is out, having left the band back in August. Guitarist and band founder Steve Blower has taken over the vocals, and upon listening to the opening track “Calm Before The Storm/Nature’s Wrath” I can say he does a better job in the higher range and overall than Moules.
Stylistically the band continues with its blend of traditional metal, progressive song lengths, elements of thrash and a love of NWOBHM. The opener combines all of these elements as it winds its way through twists and turns, mixing heavy and aggressive passages with harmonized riffs. Blower really shows off his range too, easily hitting high notes that would do Bruce Dickinson proud. “Ride On Ruin” is the shortest track at right around three minutes, and is more simple and direct than the rest of the EP. It fits, but it does have a slightly different and more rushed feel about it.
“Reign Of Fire” is the signature track to my ears, and features a foot-stomping central riff that makes several appearances in the song. There is also a tasteful interweaving of clean guitars amongst the distortion and a fiery solo from Blower that does not waste any notes. The mid-paced chug of the “Apophis” verse riff leads to hanging power chords in the chorus and closes the album on a positive note.
With THE LAST RIDE, Hamerex has expanded their sound, the range of Blower’s vocals allowing for a wider spectrum of music. It has less thrash elements than IX and wades more into traditional metal and NWOBHM, while still including some progressive parts. From a production perspective it is probably self-produced, and while decent and clear, it is not extraordinary. Overall, THE LAST RIDE serves as a satisfactory test of the band’s lineup without Moules at the mic stand. I am looking forward to seeing how the band’s sound continues to evolve with a more versatile Blower now at the helm. THE LAST RIDE should appease fans until the next full-length album and be of interest to lovers of traditional metal.