Review of Dawn of the End by Hatchet
After a lengthy hiatus and three-quarters of the band undergoing a line-up change, Californian thrash group Hatchet is back with their second album ‘Dawn Of The End’.
This is a no-nonsense thrash record that plays at very high speed with A LOT of punishing riffs and trumps the band’s debut album ‘Awaiting Evil’ in virtually every way. Much like the previous album, conventional American and Bay Area thrash influences such as Testament and (to a lesser extent) Metallica are apparent but this time round I’m also hearing the likes of Kreator as well. Guitar work ties the entire record together and pretty much every song boasts amazing solos and instrumental bridges. ‘Signals Of Infection’ is a personal favourite and one of the faster tracks even by Hatchet’s standards, a wise choice for their first music video. ‘Vanishing Point’ is also particularly fast and heavy, definitely worth a listen. Closing track ‘Welcome To The Plague’ is another highlight, the tempo is pulled back slightly for this one and featuring more chugging riffs and more importantly one of the best solos on the album. The intensity only backs off once for the whole album, a slow and very melodic instrumental entitled ‘Revelations Of Good And Evil’ showcases another side of the band and it just might surprise a few people.
The overall production and mixing is impressive, crystal clear and surprisingly clean. This definitely plays to the band’s strengths since each member displays outrageous technical ability, all of these guys can play seriously well and courtesy of the mixing EVERYTHING gets heard! Bass often seems to take a backseat in the mix on records of this ilk but not here.
Occasionally less is more and I have to say a few of the earlier tracks could have benefitted from some streamlining, ‘Silenced by Death’ and ‘Screams of the Night’ for example clock in at 6 minutes and 5:53 respectively but in neither case was that length of time necessary. This is not a progressive album and even strong riffs get repetitious after a while, I reckon you could shave 30 seconds off both tracks and not miss anything. Don’t get me wrong, they’re good songs but they out stay their welcome.
My largest gripe with the record is the vocal department; Julz Ramos’ deliveries really didn’t do much for me. My issue wasn’t helped by the fact that he has literally one single delivery style that he diligently sticks to for the entire record. This was also something that plagued the band’s first album with their original singer, I’ll grant you Julz has a stronger voice but his execution is little more than a mildly improved version of what Marcus already achieved on ‘Awaiting Evil’. Rather than help the tracks stand out individually the one-dimensional vocal work actually makes it harder to discern each song from the rest. I see what he’s trying to achieve but the likes of Miland Petrozza (Kreator) and Rob Dukes (Exodus) do it so much better. There really is nothing memorable to speak of here aside from some well-placed gang-vocals scattered throughout the album like in ‘Fall From Grace’ and ‘Signals Of Infection’.
Overall it’s a very solid thrash record and a massive improvement on the previous album. The band has benefitted from the drastic line-up change and I’d love to see these guys live sometime but Julz is a much better guitarist and songwriter than he is a vocalist.
After The Dark
Silenced By Death
Screams Of The Night
Fall From Grace
Revelations Of Good And Evil (instrumental)
Signals Of Infection*
Dawn Of The End
Welcome To The Plague*
*check these out!
Review by Al Westlake