THE DEMO CORNER
One of my favorite things about exploring new music is finding a relatively unknown band that is self-releasing music which is as strong as or stronger than the work of many artists with established record contracts. I love checking out what I expect to be a band of local bar circuit quality and being blown away when the group's music is already fully-formed and deserves to be heard by the masses. Calgary's Hammerdrone certainly fits this description.
Hammerdrone deals in a style of death metal that's classic, epic, and above all song-oriented. Reference points such as Amon Amarth, Unleashed, and mid-nineties Hypocrisy all come to mind when listening to Hammerdrone's debut EP, A Demon Rising, yet the Canadians never really sound quite like any of those bands. The songs are undeniably catchy and will burrow their way into your brain immediately. In fact, they are so memorable it may feel as if you've known these songs forever, but that's not to say these songs come off as predictable. Hammerdrone uses traditional song structures and achieves an epic feel through supreme catchiness and above average writing talent. In this regard, one will be reminded of Amon Amarth. There's no pretense here, just ass-kicking epicness.
The arrangements on A Demon Rising are deceptively simple, yet highly effective. I especially enjoy the way that the songs are assembled with regard to the interaction of the instruments. A Demon Rising sounds like a few guys playing in a room together since there aren't tons of layers upon layers. It's as if the band wrote and recorded its songs in a way that can be reproduced live without any missing parts. However, the songs never sound thin because someone is always covering each area of the sonic spectrum. The interaction of the instruments along with little details such as occasional "unwanted" string noise give the EP an endearing human quality.
Each member's skills combine to make Hammerdrone a solid unit that is essentially straight-forward but flaunts enough instrumental prowess to impress too. The vocal lines are catchy and concert-ready in an Amon Amarth / Unleashed crowd-participation sort of way. The guitar work is similar to those bands as well if you were to inject those viking hordes with a little more flash. Both guitars interact especially well when harmonizing in the title track. Often, one guitar plays epic chords while the other plays melodic lines or ripping solos. They have an excellent balance of flare and restraint. The rhythm section locks together underneath and provides a solid driving backbone to the songs.
A Demon Rising is highly enjoyable and certainly recommended to any fan of epic song-oriented death metal. This EP is so short and sweet that it's easy to listen to it five or six times in a row without even realizing it. Hopefully, Hammerdrone can maintain this kind of quality over the span of an entire full-length. If I have any criticism about Hammerdrone it's merely a cosmetic one; A new logo and better artwork would help add to the experience and would surely help draw in more potential listeners who might otherwise dismiss the quality music within. I know I'm glad I gave this release a chance, and you should too. If you like what you hear, buy a copy of A Demon Rising and show your support (click on bandcamp logo link above track listing).
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1. A Demon Rising
2. Last Stand on Gibraltar
3. Another Winter
4. Annihilation in Equilibrium
Total playing time: 16:45
Release Date: July 10, 2012
Label: Band Self Released
Hammerdrone - A Demon Rising EP
March 11, 2013