Hail of Bullets
On Divine Winds

After a critically acclaimed debut (2008’s …Of Frost and War), Dutch supergroup (members of Gorefest, Asphyx, Thanatos and Houwitser) left fans wanting after a strange digital only EP last year, but have now fully satiated fans with a full-length follow-up that continues the quality of the debut.

Though still a war themed album, On Divine Winds sees lyricist Martin Van Drunen switching fronts from the grim Eastern Front to the Pacific Theater but the quality of the music and delivery has not changed. Hail Of Bullets still play a heavily Bolt Thrower (maybe more so than the debut) and Stockholm influenced, crunchy, classic Euro death metal that culls from all of the band members’ other projects. While the immediacy and impact of a second album from such a quality line-up isn’t quite as dynamic as the debut, On Divine Winds shows that the chemistry of the members is as good as any supergroup out there right now. With the exception of Bloodbath.

Of course Van Drunen’s unmistakable voice is front and center, but the rest of the collective are as sharp as you’d expect. And while the production does seem to sound a little cleaner and lighter, it doesn’t stop the albums impact. The album leans more heavily on mid-paced, mud churning rumblers (“The Mukoden Incident”, “Full Scale War”, “Guadalcanal”, “On Coral Shores”, “Tokyo Napalm Holocaust” and standout “To Bear the Unbearable”) highlighting the bands increased Bolt Thrower throes. A few fierce up-tempo numbers (“Operation Z”, “Unsung Heroes”), strike with the precision and relentless force of a Kamikaze-attack (by the way, Kamikaze means “Divine Wind”). And while most of the tracks have a simple, permeable Bolt Thrower-with a chunky Dutch accent-tone, a hint of Stockholm gallop arises for the enjoyable trot of personal favorites “Strategy of Attrition”, bonus track “Sugar Loaf Hill”, and the numerous scrawling solos that arise in most , if not all the tracks.

The only thing lacking from an otherwise excellent album, is something quite intangible: Atmosphere. To me, …Of Frost and War conveyed a grey, bitter and barren landscape where a war of attrition and the elements claimed the lives of millions. On Divine Winds just never evokes the hostile climate and sheer ferocity of the conflict and its fearless, suicidal antagonists (depending which side you were on). The exceptions here are a brief sample in closer “Kamikaze” and the somber “To Bear the Unbearable, which admittedly addresses Japan surrender after the atom bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The album’s largely mid-paced middle section just isn’t as feral and brutal as the jungle war fought in that theater.

Still, On Divine Winds is an ample, excellent follow up to …Of Frost and War, even with a more controlled pace and lacking the wow-factor of the debut, but it shows that Hail of Bullets are more than a one hit wonder, unlike many other supergroups.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
October 25th, 2010

Comments

  1. Commented by: vugelnox

    I just don’t see the appeal in this band. I don’t hear anything deeper than a very substandard BT clone lacking in both energy and interesting riffs.


  2. Commented by: Dan

    Ordered Eastward was the heaviest song of 2008, and it’s still in heavy rotation on my iPod. Beyond that, I can’t say that any of the other songs have reached the bar set by that ungodly brutal track.


  3. Commented by: Desperado

    I’m listening to this as I type hehe! I love this band and Asphyx. I agree that the production is different and “lighter” than the debut. In fact I initially didn’t like this album that much, disappointed even. The debut, first demo and then the digital ep are some of my favs and get played alot, the sound is just so gritty and tense.

    I think the slight change of sound is due to both Swano and their listening of feedback, I’ve read plenty of interviews with the guys that have claimed that HoB and Asphyx are too similar, which could bother some but I love both so its a win win situation, and my fanboy ears hear the differences. Great honest review dude, keep it up. This site is my go to when it comes to reviews.


  4. Commented by: Blackwater Park

    Yeah, the debut is a much better album… its basically a masterpiece. This is a really good album too, but when compared to its predecessor it seems to lack the X factor.


  5. Commented by: Tyler

    I think the first one is better, but that was my album of the year for 2008. I never expected this to top an album with sogns like “Ordered Eastward”, “General Winter”, “Red Wolves of Stalin”, “Nachthexen”, “Stalingrad”, and especially “Berlin”. That said, this album is still amazing, with standouts like “Operation Z”, “On Choral Shores”, and “To Bear the Unbearable”.


  6. Commented by: Blackwater Park

    “Ordered Eastward” is one of the Top 10 greatest Death Metal songs of all time.


  7. Commented by: am_misfit

    Fantastic, brutal simplicity. I love this album and am becoming a HUGE fan of this band. The sound, tuning, and guitar and bass-driven force of the band can be felt like a sock in the gut.

    While also a fan of old-school thrash such as Slayer, Possessed, Death, Celtic Frost, Destruction, Kreator, and Sodom, this is a modern replacement for those bands as they wind down their careers. These guys give me the same kind of goose-bumps that I got when I first played Hell Awaits in 1985.


  8. Commented by: Dan Zidar

    zzzzzzzzzzzzzz……


Leave a Reply

Privacy notice: When you submit a comment, your creditentials, message and IP address will be logged. A cookie will also be created on your browser with your chosen name and email, so that you do not need to type them again to post a new comment. All post and details will also go through an automatic spam check via Akismet's servers and need to be manually approved (so don't wonder about the delay). We purge our logs from your meta-data at frequent intervals.

  • Depravity - Grand Malevolence
  • Macabre - Carnival of Killers
  • Kiova - Empty Fields and Smoke-Filled Skies EP
  • Mors Principium Est - Seven
  • Eternal Champion - Ravening Iron
  • Angerot - The Divine Apostate
  • Carnation - Where Death Lies
  • My Dying Bride - Macabre Cabaret EP
  • Witchtrap - Evil Strikes Again
  • Décembre Noir - The Renaissance of Hope
  • Ossuary Anex - Obscurantism Apogee
  • Killer Be Killed - Reluctant Hero
  • Stormkeep - Galdrum EP
  • Atrae Bilis - Divinihility EP
  • Draconian - Under a Godless Veil