Judgment Hammer - Arbiter of Fate (Independent) 2009
1. Lightning War (6:57)
2. Judgment Hammer (7:32)
3. Treason (6:27)
4. Never Repent (5:22)
5. No Surrender (4:55)
6. Kill Or Be Killed (5:46)
7. Swift Justice (6:13)
8. Join Or Die (5:22)
9. Thicker Than Water (5:46)
10. Brazen Serpent (4:55)
Judgment Hammer are yet another band in the endless stream of new bands playing classic styles of metal. They are self described as a thrash metal band, though I think this label doesn’t do them justice. Most thrash metal band’s out today are playing thrash for thrash sake. Many of these bands sound like clones of Slayer or Exodus. There is nothing necessarily wrong with that. However, there is very little to distinguish one band from the other. This is not the case with Judgment Hammer at all. In fact, I’d much rather call Judgment Hammer a heavy metal band than a thrash band, as the songs on Arbiter of Fate have more in common with “Master of Puppets” or “And Justice For All” than it does “Kill ‘Em All” or “Bonded by Blood”. Sure, there are fast tempos, speedy guitar solos, fast drum beats and all the elements that make thrash metal what it is. However, there is far more to that. The band isn’t afraid to slow things down to give their songs more dynamics. A song like “Lightning War” is for the most part a fast thrasher, but even this song has a couple mid-paced, doomy bridges that add flavor to the songs. “Treason” is a mid-paced song that would be at home with bands like Meliah Rage and Metal Church. While this song is mostly mid-paced, the band picks up the tempo for a metal jam in the middle of the song. “Never Repent” even offers a more melancholy moment with clean guitar tones. However, even this song has some heavier, more upbeat moments.
The band also uses clean vocals, which is uncommon for the new wave of thrash bands that mostly go for the arrrrrgh extreme thrash metal approach of bands like Destruction and Sodom. Another point that separates Judgment Hammer from the masses is that they tend to write longer, more progressive songs. The track named after the band is quite progressive, yet not overly technical. The band incorporates multiple riffs and even some Thin Lizzy like dual guitar harmonies.
“Arbiter of Fate” is an independent release. As such I sort of expected bad, muddy production. That is not the case here either. The production is raw and has that underground feel, but every instrument is heard clear. Even listening on my crappy computer speakers I was able to hear the bass guitar. (Shocking! A thash band with audible bass guitar!) I can only imagine what this band could do if they had a budget and a producer.
Grab your denim vest, strap on your bullet belt and be prepared to bang your head. Judgment Hammer are here to raise the fist of the metal child.