Hail of Bullets – III: The Rommel Chronicles (Metal Blade)Wednesday, 23rd October 2013
The calling for Hail of Bullets has and probably always will be vocalist Martin Van Drunen. The on-again/off-again/on-again Asphyx throat is one of death metal’s real treasures, a man with a voice so imitable that it can make even the most pedestrian of concoctions sound interesting, ala modern Asphyx. Hail of Bullets are by no means an afterthought, though, with III: The Rommel Chronicles serving as yet another excuse to tell more war tales, this time about German field marshal Erwin Rommel. And who better to narrate than Van Drunen, right?
As with the band’s previous two outings (2008’s Of Frost and War, and 2010’s On Divine Winds), The Rommel Chronicles stays situated in the side bank of European death metal. The band’s Netherlands home base gives the band an excuse to pilfer the Stockholm guitar tone and mix it with the bulk of Bolt Thrower and the occasional melodic twist. Yet for the most part, it’s ground and pound death metal, with rumbling cuts such as opener “Swoop of the Falcon,” the pounding “To the Last Breath of Man and Beast,” and vertical doom of “The Final Front” emerging as the standout cuts.
There’s a bit of saminess that swallows up some of the album, as in, you’re going to get what you’ve already received via the previous two releases. It’s relatively minor, though, as Hail of Bullets continue to supplant Bolt Thrower as the predominant warfare-ready death metal band in Europe. Plus, when you have a guy like Van Drunen out front, it’s really hard to fuck things up.