HAMEREX caught me off guard when I first played their album “The Abyss Vol 1”. The brutally fast cut time opening in no way prepared me for the amazing voice of founder Steve Blower whose growl in the first few seconds in no way represented his range and smooth power. The balance in the mix was good, with the guitar Andy Firth of and bass of Marc Hood not phasing each other out giving the band a much fuller, richer and heavier sound. They’re a group that seems to be trying to push themselves to the edge of their abilities, and I applaud them for it.
“The Extremist” opening though seems a bit loose, not as tight as it could be. Given the nature of time constrants in the studio this is understandable, but it still is a tad distracting. Once they get going they fall in line and put out a decent opening track. Kudos on their ability with tempo change transitions. Smooth and fluid is the way to a good head banging experience. I found myself going to “The Dark Tower” repeatedly, enjoying it tremendously although I personally would have got them to add more harmonies, both with the guitar at the start and vocal chorus. The up-tempo solo/bridge worked, reminding me of the early thrash scene and making me kind of nostalgic.
My biggest problem though was “Crucifixion.” Let Steve sing, this song was screaming for it. Marc has a good backing vocal sound, but after the power of the voice in the first three songs, this was a bit of a bring down. Overall, I found the album enjoyable, and actually have a song on my “Therapy” playlist, which as you get to know me is a big deal. The production was good, the vocalist was surprisingly powerful, and they most importantly avoided the repetitive trap too many metal bands fall into. My feelings about HAMEREX after listening to “The Abyss Vol 1” is they’re a band that would be better experienced live, and they actually kind of captured that on this recording. Just as I hit save, I noticed an update on their web site. Marc and Sharif have left the band.
Mike “Bitchin” Bourgeois