Hammer of Dawn
Uzil EP

I usually don’t review digital-only releases, but when you stumble across a symphonic tech-death supergroup based on one of the greatest video games series’ of all time, I’ll make an exception.

Video gamers will recognize the moniker as one of the weapons from the Gears of War series, and indeed Hammer of Dawn is a Gear of Wars-themed band, with Uzil being the band’s second EP, and it’s based on one of the central villains of the games, General RAAM.

And who is responsible for this killer international project? Well, on vocals and lyricist you get Mac Smith (Decrepit Birth; Alterbeast), on guitar, there is  Zed Kelley on drums, Beau Tilley and on bass, Stefano Franceschini (Aborted, Hideous Divinity) and new to the project to help out with the absolutely epic, cinematic choral and orcehstral elements is none other than Fleshgod Apocalypse‘s Francesco Ferrini. Yeah, that part is what got my attention for sure. Throw in some killer guest appearances from Filip Danielsson of Humanity’s Last Breath, Oliver Rae Aleron Peters of Archspire and Dallas Toler-Wade (ex-Nile), and there is a pretty respectable lineup and boy do they deliver.

Stylistically, this shared some elements with the fellow gamers Spire of Lazarus, or recent  Mines of Moria EP– super techy- almost Canadian-styled shreddy, tech death metal that leans hard into the Alterbeast/Archspire sound but leans much more heavily on the symphonic elements. Ferrini provides a virtually constant film score ( game score?) level of sweeping, majestic, and dramatic atmosphere.

The 5 songs are all killer, regardless of whether you like/know the Gears games series. Starting with “Declaration of the Dark Horse” and its perfect atmospheric intro and the perfect melding of brutal, killer music and gaming nerdery. “Vantablack” has a more dramatic mood with heavy choral elements and “Kryllstorm” is as equally intense as its game-based namesake, and Ferrini takes the atmosphere to a new level, and shows why he’s been valuable addition and improves an already solid project.  Closer “11th Gale (14 A.E.)” is the EPs lowest most controlled number but ends the EP suitably, even if its the weakest song on the EP.

My only gripe with this tantalizing EP is that it is too little, but when you pair it up with the equally cool prior EP Ketor from last year, you get a solid ‘album’ or sorts from a project that is a cool new injection into the killer symphonic death metal/deathcore explosion of late that I’m absolutely loving.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
October 14th, 2022

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