H.O.D. - Beer, bitches, blood 4.5/5

Reviewed: 9-26-08


1. Enter the hospital of death
2. Down the hatch
3. I am the tiger
4. Eyezerbeams of Osiris
5. Hogs of war
6. Kicked to the kerb
7. We go together
8. Death shed
9. Fear the ambulance
10. Ooh, that's it
11. Transformers
12. White the lightning

'Beer, bitches, blood' no, it's not Drowning Pool's sick new joint, but rather the unfortunately titled debut of an excellent DIY English thrash band called H.O.D., one of many bands in the thrash resurgence that is currently tearing up and down the UK as much as anywhere else in the world, and they posses that key advantage many of their counterparts lack in having just a little spark of a originality, as well as a pretty off-the wall sense of humour.

I came into contact with the band purely by accident at the Bloodstock Open Air festival earlier this year, when copies of this CD were being given away free of charge outside the unsigned band tent where they had played earlier in the day. Being from Glasgow, I'd probably have just as gladly picked up a coupon promising a rectal exam from Dr T. Rex, Fake M.D. as long as it had been free, so I wasn't exactly expecting much from the scruffy little CD-R proudly bearing the legend "all thrash no cash" on its inlay. Thankfully what the band have in spirit they certainly don't lack in creativity and the talent for writing a good tune, and have knocked together an exhilaratingly fresh-sounding debut.

Forgoing the more typical Bay Area influence adhered to by the likes of Pitiful Reign, H.O.D. (Hospital of Death, if you must know) take more queues from vintage Anthrax, playing melodic, traditional metal-inspired speed/thrash. Frontman The Rev D's soaring, Joey Belladonna-like, vocals of course contribute greatly to this comparison, and it is good to hear a new thrash band using a vocalist singing in a style almost completely forgotten to the genre in this day and age.

With jokey song titles like "Death shed", "Fear the ambulance" and "White the lightning" (you might need to be from the U.K. to get that last one), it should come as no surprise that the band don't take things particularly seriously. This light-hearted attitude permeates the full CD, and its 41-minute running time breezes past through a collection of memorable, varied and often hilarious songs. Pure speed metal efforts like "I am a tiger" and "Death shed" the latter probably being the best song on the CD are met with more 'evil' efforts like "Fear the ambulance" and even a couple of brilliant drink-and-thrash anthems as well.

H.O.D.'s endearingly stupid sense of humour is probably best evidenced on the completely unanticipated power ballad (on a thrash CD!) "We go together", which has completely riotous lyrics, but is also a fine tune in its own right. Metal acts with comedy lyrics often suffer from coming up with the humour first and foremost and leaving the music to sort itself out, but the exquisite solo section in this song proves this band are not guilty of that offence.

Special mention must also go to the decision to cover the arrangement of the Transformers theme song done by Lion for the animated movie spin-off of the 80s toy franchise. The song is an often forgotten moment of questionable genius and H.O.D. provide a very serviceable rendition. If you take nothing else away from this review at all, at least try and find the time to check out the original version of this song. But to get back to H.O.D., it will take something completely spectacular out of left field for this CD not to go down as my biggest surprise package of the year. I'd urge anyone with even a fleeting interest in thrash to pick up 'Beer, bitches, blood' the very most it will cost is just 2 of the Queen's pounds and judge for themselves. This is a band with the charm, attitude and of course (going by this debut) the songs needed to go very far indeed.




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