Awaiting Evil Hatchet - Awaiting Evil (Metal Blade Records) 2008

1.       Darkening Skies (2:02)
2.       Frailty Of The Flesh (4:19)
3.       Sealed Fate (4:41)
4.       Frozen Hell (4:25)
5.       Attack Imminent (5:05)
6.       Morlocks Tomb (5:18)
7.       Storm The Gates (5:53)
8.       The Dead Will March (4:37)
9.       Awating Evil (5:46)

The thrash revival is in full swing. Labels are signing all these retro thrash bands, assuming that they will sell based on the strength of a retro-movement in the late 00's. There are many of them, Merciless Death, Evile, Warbringer, Bonded by Blood, Fueled by Fire, Havok, Municipal Waste, etc., etc. etc.. All of them decked out in their patch-clad demin vests, bullet belts, white-leather high-top sneakers and favorite black band t-shirts. The number of bands is quite astonishing. Hatchet are one of the bands that are part of this thrash revival–the new wave of thrash metal. Hatchet even hail from the Bay Area of California. "Awaiting Evil" is their debut full length album on Metal Blade Records.

Hatchet's style combines a bit of 80's crossover mixing early Suicidal Tendencies and mixing in a little bit of Slayer with some Testament like melodies and harmonies. Frankly, this one is a real barnstormer! The album is chock full of meaty thrash riffs, tasty leads that seem to jump out of the mix and some actual hooks in the songwriting. It's clear to me that while Hatchet have their feet firmly planted in the thrash category, they are also fans of classic heavy metal, a la Iron Maiden/Judas Priest. I hear that influence in some of the songwriting. Vocalist  Marcus Kirchen has a slightly raspy, aggressive voice that never crosses over into death metal growls. He does throw out quite a few Destruction-like screams throughout the album. What Hatchet really has going for them that a lot of the New Wave of Thrash Metal bands don't is that they aren't all about "thrash for thrash sake". Sure they pump out a steady stream of speedy licks and riffs but the songwriting is noticeably a step above many of the others. Halfway through the CD I don't feel like I've been listening to the same song over and over again. So while they have the young, aggressive energy, they also have hooks.

On other thing this band has going for them is something bands in the digital age haven't figured out. Hatchet gets in, sucker punches the listener and gets out leaving them dazed, confused and wanting more. The album 43 minutes and only 9 tracks, including the intro. That's the way a thrash album should be. You never grow bored with is.

Of course, there is nothing really all that new here either. I mean, they are not trying to create some new style of music or blend many different styles in an attempt to "be creative". However,  that really isn't the point. It's about trying to capture that thrash metal sound while putting their own, unique stamp on it. No one accuses a jazz artist of lacking creativity or ability simply because he chooses to play jazz. Frankly, there is nothing new under the sun and there is nothing wrong with a band playing an established style of music. Hatchet have released a solid thrash metal debut. It might not top the classics from the 80's and early 90's, but anyone who enjoys crossover/thrash metal should enjoy this album. I did.

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