Skull Hammer - Pay it in blood 3.5/5

Reviewed: 4-1-11


1. Soldier of misfortune
2. I defy
3. Pay it in blood
4. Balls to the bone
5. Nuclear holocaust
6. The gladiator
7. Blasphemy
8. Born evil
9. Convicted of conviction
10. Hit by God

Massachusetts has always been a breeding ground for fresh thrash acts who are convicted of conviction. With bands like Lich King, Ravage and Razormaze leading the way, Framingham's soldiers of misguided fortune - Skull Hammer - pay it in blood, by defying the odds, with their balls to the bone crushing anthems.

Steve "Ace" McArdle is the main songwriter, and key guitarist. He does not so much sing as regurgitate his venomous intent in the true metal crossover fashion. Think of what Ludichrist, Pro-Pain, Crumbsuckers, or even the recently signed Nuclear Blast band Condemned? due on their new CD 'Condemned 2 death'.

I also detect a vibrant U.K. metal punk influence; especially when riffs reminiscent of The Exploited, Warfare, Virus, or Aniliated scorch your skull slightly, then singe. Clearly, Boston born idols like Wargasm and Meliah Rage have seeped into the sinews of their fleshed out faith or fear.

The well war crafted CD with artwork illustrated by J.P. Fournier begins with the bullet - built on frustration - war cry of "Soldier of misfortune". One can easily envision the cover of Laaz Rockit's 'Know your enemy' or the similar Sacrifice CD. Musically these artists also channel Sacred Reich, Evil Dead, and other thrashers who defy those wicked "politricks".

The title track which follows the DIY of "I defy" emits a febrile peregrination of palatable retribution recalling the angst of Eviction and the slaughtered factotum of Exhorder.

If the overkill wailing of "Balls to the bone" does not break your back with its scope of horror, then the Dan Kowal penned powerhouse assault of "Nuclear holocaust" will have your toxic, zombified mind lost in the wasteland. Dan also plays drums in Ravage. His punishing razor sharp hits, by God, will lead to an instant hammered head, and a tortured skull.

Breaking the sound barrier with searing solos and no sign of rallentando, "The gladiator" is a real crowd pleaser for the punishment area. "Born evil" echoes the pulse of Demolition Hammer, and the closer "Hit by God" with a solo by bassist Glen Reed is a befitting coda to this war ensemble.

Lyrically this power trio, who may have taken their sobriquet from 'The Legend of Zelda', do not write your typical mettle fodder. In the provocative "Convicted of conviction", "Ace" claims that "God is you and me". Interestingly enough he also alludes to Satan as being those who oppose our freedom for the procession of the billingsgate found in "Blasphemy".

If you appreciate quality thrash, with excellent musicianship, and some mind opening lyrics, then heathens and ragers, I command you to hammer that metal into your heads, and do not save the Skull for last!




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