I think I’m finally coming around on this whole death metal thing. The gore and violence subject matter of the genre has been difficult for me to get used to. I started my life as a religious prude and possess a Constitution ability score that has me literally passing out whenever I give blood, so I’ve never gotten into horror films or their musical equivalents. Add to that the fact that I’ve responded to three “hammer smashed faces” in my relatively short EMT career, and the novelty of songs with such titles is somewhat lost on me. But my recent foray into the metal of death and gore has given me an appreciation for the cathartic release that the genre can provide. So watch as I take a look at Hacked to Death, the debut album from Canadian death/thrashers Detherous, and see if I can remain conscious.
I’ve come far enough that I can look at that gloriously over-the-top depiction of the poor chap with the splitting headache (sorry) on the cover without triggering a PTSD flareup. Let’s imagine that the head represents the sound found on Hacked to Death. On one side of the axe you’ll find a healthy dose of early Kreator, and on the other various eras of Death. The beginning of “Smouldering Ashes” sounds like it would fit right in on Pleasure to Kill before Damon MacDonald unleashes a strained growl that you’d swear was Chuck Schuldiner and the song moves into a speedy Symbolic style thrash riff. MacDonald pulls double duty, delivering the riff goods much like the person his thrash shouts most bring to mind: Mille Petrozza. So far so good!
There’s a strong groove element a la Demolition Hammer on Hacked to Death, and the record is all the better for it. “NIRC” contains an excellent chug-filled outro and “Brain Death” weaves groove riffs throughout a monster death/thrash track. The embedded title track could stand toe-to-toe with death and thrash metal classics from the 80’s and 90’s and perfectly showcases the many strengths of Detherous. “Practitioners of Pain” starts with the intensity of Reign in Blood while the intro of “From Hell They Rise” sinisterly travels South of Heaven because we wouldn’t want Slayer to feel left out of this thrash bin, would we?
The production sounds great, with a strong bass presence from Kamen Proudfoot providing a really pleasing depth to Hacked to Death. There are a few places where the transitions from riff to riff are a bit sloppy and jarring, with my least favorite track “Monstrosity” being the main culprit. It grooves hard and is decent enough, but the song and its successor “From Hell They Rise” pale a bit in comparison to the other tracks. With a 33-minute runtime, this thing flies by, and that makes the fact that there’s not an ounce of innovation to be found here barely even register. You’ve heard this all before but the style is performed capably and with vigor. “Brain Death” and “Hacked to Death” are superb standout tracks, and should make the cut for your “Thrash 2019” playlist.
After facing my fears, I’m still standing. And as I wipe the blood spatter from my face, I’m thinking that Detherous is a band to watch. A band this young has no right to play such olde music with so much skill. Hacked to Death is nasty, belligerent, and violent and when played at high volumes, it makes the things that go bump in the night wish they’d stayed home and binged Netflix. I expect very good things from these guys in the near future, and being the polite Canadians that they are, I’m sure they apologized to that guy after they gave him the axe.