Hail Of Bullets - War Is Hell
Written by Michael the MettleAngel,
(originally written for Brave Words & Bloody
he days of Dutch
death metal reign supreme. With Hail Of Bullets, Holland's halcyon epoch
of coarse concord continues. This all-star hailstorm bolts and blazes
with a maelstrom of monstrosity and ferocity. This panzer division decimates,
marching to the beat of their own doom, belting out a bitter barrage by
following insanity's command.
ed by the asphyxiated
rasp of Martin Van Drunen, whose pestilent vocal presence pulses with
a consuming intonation, and punctuated by the prowess of Thanatos' rhythm
section of Stephan Gebe'di and Paul Baayens on guitar, and ex-Houwitser
member, Theo Van Eekelen on bass, Dutch death metal lives on, and prospers.
Gorefest god Ed Warby, maintains the drum cadence and calm before the
storm. All this culminates in a bleak, bitter, blatant analogy to the
past, musically and lyrically.
orking on their
demo in 2007 in Amersfoort, Holland under the tutelage of Dan Swanö,
they released their first effort, which led to them being signed by Metal
Blade Records. Finally, these Dutch dirge metal legends triumphantly hail
and kill as one with the crucial offensive - ...Of Frost And War, their
debut release, out in early May.
black and white visceral portrayal of the harsh conditions undergone by
those on both sides of the Eastern Front, during World War II, is an eye-opening
account of the historical tragedy the German and Soviet armies experienced
each grueling day. The malign message, as envisioned by master lyricist
Martin Van Drunen (Pestilence, Asphyx, Death By Dawn), is a compelling
journey back in time, taking the listener to the very precipice of the
internal carnage. The bone-shattering words, well fashioned in iron and
imagery, evoke such horror.
he booklet even
includes actual footage, and horrid depictions of the war. The deliberate
choice of no colour reflects the pallid cover art, which is shrouded in
mystery. This approach echoes that early '90s pungent death knell of British
indoctrination which mavericks like Carcass, Cancer, Bolt Thrower or Benediction
epitomized, mingled with the mighty Morrisound ethic of Floridian entropy.
Hail Of Bullets also honour the southern death tradition of Malevolent
Creation, Autopsy, Massacre, Monstrosity, and Death themselves, while
paying homage to the Swedish gods: Unleashed, Dismember, Grave, and Edge
an Swanö paid
careful attention to Martin's vocal approach. As Martin explains, "Dan
claims that my vocals influenced his. Usually engineers are mainly concerned
with guitar, and drum sound. Dan was focused on my vocal attendance, and
he concept espoused
on this new album is something Martin has been wanting to promote for
quite some time. "I've actually had the whole Hail Of Bullets idea
in my mind for four years or so. Ed keeps busy with Gorefest and Ayreon,
but he willingly agreed to drum on this album. We decided to do this because
we love to play this type of music, and we have fun with it. With all
the technology available to us today, the timing was right. It was relatively
easy to exchange musical ideas, as we had song files on our computers."
mbracing a notion
for ...Of Frost And Fire, held near and dear to his heart, all these years,
was no simple task. Martin did dutiful research, reading several notable
German and Dutch authors before penning the lyrics. The insipid conditions
described therein underscore the crude reversion to cannibalism, the bodies
on bodies of frost-bitten corpses, the systematic starvation, and scarcity
of natural resources.
the cycle of resistance
"The concept is all about the Eastern
Border of the War, under the dictatorship of Stalin, all of which eventually
led to the fall of Berlin. This was a decisive turning point in WWII.
The lyrics focus on the horror and atrocity, as depicted on the Eastern
Front. Take the song 'Stalingrad' - this exemplifies my fascination for
the maniacal ongoing carnage depicted by this battle. Stalin, like Hitler,
was an evil ruler. These two ruthless souls sacrificed the lives of millions,
just to secure their dominance."
mettle refuses to subordinate, so he makes it well-known that Stalin was
also a despot. Most Western scholars reflect on the wicked meaning of
painful memories from the Holocaust, and the elements that led to Hitler's
"Final Solution." Few reflect on the tyrannical renderings of
the dictator Stalin.
e viewed his soldiers,
his comrades, as a means to an end. Stalin killed millions of his own
men and imprisoned those not in favour of his belief in gulags. All this
he did in the name of Mother Russia, but was it really worth it? Martin
vehemently retorts, "I ask you, how did Stalin expect his soldiers
to survive the harsh weather conditions of -54 to -40 Celsius? They were
exhausted from fighting, they had no food, they were wounded, with little
medical attention. The battle raged on despite these miserable conditions!
So many atrocities occurred, even, downright fuckin' cannibalism! They
had no other choice for survival!"
he CD commences
with the tanks ginding and chugging forth, over ice, on the opener - 'Barbarossa
(Before The Storm)'. Then, each song delves deeper into the abhorrent
allusion, unveiling historical madness. As the vibes sicken, so will the
listener be enthralled in the essence of dearth and dudgeon, vicariously
identifying with the victims' plight. He will then become possessed, seeing
through the eyes of horror, realizing these slaves to the system, died
needlessly. Martin's words are so dark and forboding, yet so informative.
The sheer honesty of the legitimate themes exonerate his cause. This is
why he has inspired so many great vocalists over the years. Including
Peter Tagtgren of Hypocrisy and Mikael Akerfeldt of Opeth.
ail Of Bullets
is a real triumph for all members who contributed. Songs like 'General
Winter', 'Red Wolves Of Stalin', 'Advancing Once More', 'Berlin', and
'Nachthexen' speak for themselves. Revisting the ghost of war will leave
scars, and keep one transfixed. Just listen for the desperate cries of
the forgotten souls echoing in Martin's evil chants. An acrimonious anthem
of humble pie like 'Stalingrad', or 'Inferno At The Carpathian Mountains',
elucidates this very aspect. "I am pleased to sing in the manner
as I chose," notes Martin. "My deliverance is my technique.
I visualize each part of the song, and how I want to enunciate the words
forthwith. I ascertain how my vocals work with a certain riff or hook."
he retelling of
The Crucial Offensive of 19-11-42, a bitter battle which resulted in the
Wehrmacht's retreat, and which set the standard for German disgrace and
the fall of Berlin, is another example of Mr. Van Drunen's exemplary writing
skills. The cortege of soldiers marching on to Stalingrad, only to face
defeat, is most authentic, being borne by the spirit of one whose ancestors
died in this combat. This leads up to 'Berlin', which is a befitting end
title, as the music lingers on and on, like the war, itself.
historical highlight is his mention of the Nachthexen "Night Witches."
He vividly describes these vixens as, "Shrieking Madonnas, lead-spitting
banshees and iron Valkryies." They were the aviatrixes of the 588th
Night Bomber Regiment, women of the Soviet Air Force, who fought bravely,
and survived, despite insurmountable odds, while performing precision
bombing raids. This piquant personification of the female presence in
the war corroborates Teutonic tradition. Women fought on both sides of
the Eastern Front; unfortunately, their leaders displaced them, making
them disposable heroes.
ar is Hell - a
sad but true fact today, as it was over 65 years ago. Death metal at its
finest will replicate in sonic brutality the ashen assignation of this
drama, with a certain malevolent charm. Hail Of Bullets succeed by doing
this and more. I champion the Dutch diligence, in all its black arts.
etal Blade made
the right choice in signing Hail Of Bullets. Martin Van Drunen has hailed
the bullet belt era of classic deathrash by solidifying his new band.
Follow his paradigm and become a part of the natural born killing addiction,
the dawning of a new era in death and dignity. You won't be mistaken or
Michael the MettleAngel - June 2008