Deathhammer – Electric Warfare Review

2021 was a pretty awesome year for thrash. The genre supplied four of my top 10 albums from last year, and after enjoying such a bountiful harvest, I’m trying to temper my expectations going forward. I tried my luck a few weeks back with Cleveland’s Hammr and achieved mixed results, so I made a trip down to Promo Depot and grabbed myself another ‘hammer to see if I can’t nail down 2022’s first great thrash album. Norway’s Deathhammer probably need no introduction as they’ve achieved some notoriety by releasing a string of full-lengths, demos, EPs, and splits—with some form of release almost every single year—since their formation back in 2005. My personal experience with the band is fairly limited, but I do own 2015’s Evil Power and consider it to be a good-to-very good example of the early, chaotic thrash sound. I skipped 2018’s Chained to Hell despite its stellar artwork, but let’s see what Deathhammer sounds like in 2022.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? That certainly seems to be the Deathhammer philosophy for album-to-album progression, and Electric Warfare is no exception. The album finds the band maintaining their longtime sound, one that combines relentless, slightly blackened speed metal with early German and American thrash, but things lean a bit farther towards the Destruction end of the spectrum than the Slayer end this time around. Embedded single “Rapid Violence” lives up to its name, never once taking its foot from the accelerator—even the “slower” grooves near the end of the track are obscenely fast.

And that unrelenting need for speed is indulged without shame on much of Electric Warfare. After a very sinister Hell Awaits-style intro, opener “Savage Aggressor” launches into a NWoBHM-on-meth speed/thrash assault and ushers in the album’s first true highlight, the six-minute “Crushing the Pearly Gates.” The latter track features an irresistible chorus and enough rhythmic diversity to support its longer runtime. “Enter the Morbid” keeps the velocity high, bringing in a touch of early Celtic Frost and serving as an introduction for the album’s centerpiece, the two-part “Return to Sodom/Soldiers of Darkness.” “Return to Sodom” sounds like a fast-paced Iron Maiden instrumental and prepares us for the blistering invasion of the “Soldiers of Darkness.” As the album heads into its final stretch, “Thirst for Ritual” provides one final short, powerful salvo before the record takes an interesting turn.

Electric Warfare is just about the perfect length and features songs of nearly uniform quality, but the pacing and track placement feel a bit odd. As I mentioned above, the majority of the album blazes by with unrelenting speed, but then the final two tracks arrive in the form of two seven-minute crushers. Those final two tracks employ far more groove-oriented riffing, making them more immediately accessible than the six songs that preceded them. This may seem like a strange complaint since both numbers are pretty good in their own right, but putting them together at the end of the album makes it seem as if you’re listening to a different band by the time they come around. This feeling could probably have been mitigated by placing one of these long epics closer to the album’s middle, but what do I know? I’m just a lowly, unpaid music critic. Minor nitpicks aside, there are plenty of highlights on Electric Warfare, namely “Crushing the Pearly Gates,” “Enter the Morbid,” “Return to Sodom/Soldiers of Darkness,” “Thirst for Ritual,” and “Thrown to the Abyss.”

At the end of the day, Electric Warfare is another fun entry in the Deathhammer discography. While a band like Blackevil may play this style in a far more interesting and memorable way, fans of Deathhammer, and of proto-thrash/black/speed in general, should enjoy all 42 minutes of this savage platter.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Hells Headbangers
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: February 25th, 2022

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