Hurtlocker
Embrace the Fall

2005’s debut offering from Hurtlocker, Fear In a Handful of Dust was among my top ten favorite releases of the year – an excellent entry in the field of death/thrash, they showed a great deal of influence ranging from classic Bay Area and German thrash, to early Swedish death metal, topped off with a hint of hardcore and a modern touch to keep from feeling dated. I’ve been anticipating this sophomore effort greatly, and I must say I’m not disappointed.

The Chicago natives seem to be tighter with improved songwriting and more focused aggression on Embrace the Fall – as with any thrash related band, the primary focus in on good memorable riffs and shredding solos when employed, and this is something guitarists Tim Moe and Justin Jurgevich excel at. Vocalist Grant Belcher serves up a hardcore-ish bark bordering on death metal growl, though is generally lacking that dreaded “tough guy” sheen that is typical of most hardcore vocalists. The rhythm section of drummer Tony Bettenhausen throwing down furious double bass and vicious blasts and Chris Djuricic laying down the bass grooves is fitting though unfortunately the bass is all but lost in the mix.

Album opener “I Am Napalm” is a lashing assault on the ears, showing off some of that blasting accompanied by early Entombed inspired buzzsaw riffing among the expected thrashing and a simple yet memorable chorus line same as the song title. “Let Them Die” is a little reminiscent of Hatesphere in its thrashing groove, while tracks like “Release of Sin” and the self-titled have moments that may bring Pantera to mind. “Destroying Bliss” seems to be more focused on a Bay Area riffing approach, while “Disgust and “Deserving” lean more towards death metal with more buzzsaw riffing paired with blast beats for a devastating aural beatdown.

At the end of the day, Hurtlocker have delivered another quality release for fans of the genre, and I suspect more of the same will be in store for the future.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Larry "Staylow" Owens
September 15th, 2007

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