Hazzerd – Delirium Review

While I relish the disgusting lurch and crawl of Asphyx and Autopsy, I’ve never been able to shake my love of blistering, thrashing metal. Reign in Blood kicked down the door, and through that door has charged classics like Slaughter’s Strappado, MercilessThe Awakening, and Morbid Saint’s Spectrum of Death into my iron heart and album collection. I can’t get enough of the stuff, but after listening to …And Justice for All again, I rediscovered my enjoyment of that vein of thrash as well – Metallica was my gateway into metal, after all. Hazzerd is a relatively young Canadian band who play this second type of thrash, the one which doesn’t lean towards death metal but firmly towards a modernized version of the late 80s version of more accessible thrash.

Hazzerd sounds a lot like what I’ll refer to as “commercial Megadeth” – meaning the era of Countdown to Extinction. It’s faster than that record, but structurally is at about the same level of streamlined simplicity, unlike the complex, varied, and layered songs of predecessor Rust in Peace. Commercial Megadeth is filtered through the modern thrash stylings of bands like Hatchet, meaning that you won’t mistake this for a lost ‘80s thrash record. Delirium sometimes dovetails into the party-ready speed metal of bands like Speedbreaker and the less thrashy parts of the latest Kreator material and occasionally suggests the less serious tonal approach of Anthrax and Municipal Waste. Other times, Delirium seems to take itself quite seriously, which creates a tonal dissonance throughout the record due to Hazzerd’s apparent inability to pick a lane.

Opener “Sacrifice Them (In the Name of God)” shows this point well. Its anti-religion lyricism is so sophomoric and asinine that it could be excellent satire, but it comes across as serious. Nonetheless, the song itself is good if not a bit overlong with some standout lead work, particularly at the conclusion. Conversely, “Dead in the Shed” appears to be a funny send-up of old D.A.R.E. campaigns, and its high-speed dirt metal is fun, energetic, and memorable. The nonsensical lyric of “one more riff and that’s a haiku” made me laugh out loud, as it perfectly embraced the goofy side of thrash metal without devolving into self-parody or trite stupidity. “Dead in the Shed” has a personality that matches the cover and the band name, and for this reason is the record’s greatest tonal success. This riotous good time is followed by Delirium’s lone concise ripper. “Illuminated Truth” mixes the melodicism of Hatchet and Rust in Peace to great effect, wasting no time and exploiting its simple structure to emphasize how good the riffs are.

Where Hazzerd suffers is overlength and, to a lesser degree, album structure. “The Decline” is the penultimate track on Delirium, and while good it doesn’t provide a powerful closing statement. The solution is to close out with Delirium’s second instrumental, a pleasant acoustic ditty tellingly called “The End.” It’s fine, but it does nothing other than telegraph the closing of an album that would have better been accomplished by writing a proper closing number. “Victim of a Desperate Mind” does remarkably little in six minutes and change, as the first four minutes are forgettable riff salad and the abrupt and unearned nature of its climax drains its effectiveness. This is a shame, because the climax is, in isolation, quite good. “A Tormented Reality” ends with thirty seconds of slow bass noodling that torpedoes its effectiveness as a short, punchy ripper that it was until that point. “Waking Nightmare” begins on a needless forty seconds of buildup that accomplishes nothing and sounds like filler, or more likely an attempt to clearly differentiate this track from the ripping “Illuminated Truth” which preceded it.

The question remains how severe the detriments are in relation to the merits of Delirium. On this, I waver. I thoroughly enjoy around thirty-five of the fifty minutes here, but the less enjoyable parts are not outright bad by any stretch. These make Delirium feel longer than its runtime and make a playthrough more daunting than it ought to be. As my role is to review the LP, there’s no skipping, rearranging, or altering the sequence of tracks which comprise the album. Hazzerd is a good band capable of writing great material – Delirium proves it. Separating the wheat from the chaff comes with time, and Hazzerd, I should hope, has plenty of time ahead of them. If nothing else, Delirium has given us a band to keep a close eye on.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: M-Theory Audio
Websites: hazzerdthrash.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/HazzerdThrash
Releases Worldwide: January 24th, 2020

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