New York black metallers Black Anvil first came to my attention with their previous album (2010’s “Triumvirate”) and that quickly became one of my favourite albums of that year. The quartet seemed to have found a way to perfectly meld together so many different styles of metal so seamlessly and then coat it all with a thick layer of the grimmest black metal. Four years on, and they have returned with “Hail Death”, and album that possibly surpasses their previous efforts.
From the first track to the end, the band again bring together elements of hardcore, thrash, traditional and black metal, throw in a hint of sludge and even find time to add a Kiss cover (‘Under The Rose’). They cite bands such as Bad Brains, Metallica and Darkthrone as influences and you can hear those types of acts throughout this release. The album opens with ‘Still Reborn’, a nine and a half minute track, which starts with a short soothing acoustic intro before all hell breaks loose (literally). One of the first things that struck me about the album too is the unusual deployment of the backing vocals. Straying away from usual black metal territory, with early use of both clean vocals (in the opener) and gang vocals in ‘Redemption Through Blood’.
What follows on from there really is something special. Big solos and some killer thrash riffs, most apparent on ‘My Hate Is Pure’ that is one of the shorter tracks on “Hail Death”. This is followed by the doomy overtones of ‘N’ that brings in the gang backing vocals again. Before you start to forget where this band are coming from, there is the prophetic ‘Next Level Black’ (which sums this album up perfectly). Each member of the band shines on this track, something which I could best describe as not being out of place on something like ‘Battles In The North’, it really is that good. The slow burning, pure clean vocals on the bonus track throw a bit of a curveball after such a brutal previous ten songs, but with the band so obviously not afraid to experiment with different things, it doesn’t feel out of place at all.
“Triumvirate” was a special album, but “Hail Death” really does take the band to the next level, a cert to be in many end of year lists and one of the best black metal releases I have heard in a long time. Hopefully with such a broad range of influences there should be something here for fans of anything at the more extreme end of the spectrum. With the progress that Black Anvil have made so far, who knows where they could take us on their next release, I can’t wait to find out.