originally posted on This Music Blog Sux, Apr 21, 2021
What are reviews supposed to start with now? Probably information. About the band, not just in general. So what’s on the plate? We’ve got the four-piece death/blackened thrash band out of Dallas with the fantastically unsubtle name, Steel Bearing Hand. Formed in 2009 as Live By The Sword, they’ve had a couple of line up changes over the years and two major releases, 2016’s self titled “Steel Bearing Hand” and our current meal, “Slay In Hell” released April 2nd 2021 via Carbonized Records. Spoiler, I like it.
To start with we’ve got an awesome black and white cover that I would strongly consider getting as a back tattoo;
Just look at it, it’s got a battle, skeletons, cool looking demon things, manifestations of evil power, and a great logo. Glorious.
Equally glorious are the drums throughout the album. The snare sound is just *chef kiss* perfect and the hammer tom fills are reliable and breakneck. I was, however, a bit disappointed in the level of the bass guitar in the mix, when you can hear it the tone is delightfully evil, but you really have to strain your ears for it. As I’ve said before, I’ll probably be making this same complaint often. The guitar tone, however, especially the lead guitar, is that perfect victorious high and crushing mid that makes thrash so fun. I loved the whammy bar work, with fantastic dive bombs throughout. The vocals are not quite as outstanding, but a highly satisfactory black/death metal growl that feels just the right amount buried in the mix. I enjoyed the occasionally thrash style group vocals, and the “here’s the cool part” grunts.
The album flows really well, easing you in with a couple of relatively shorter songs, and then flexing their muscle with some six, seven minute range stuff before pulling out all the stops for the 12:31 closer Ensanguined. The album always managed to keep me interested, despite the longer songs, and every time I turned it on, it felt like the whole thing was over before I knew it. Even when the riffs started to sound a bit samey. It’s more impressive that they managed to do this without ever needing to dip their toe in proggier waters. Just solid blackened thrash and death metal fundamentals. I always felt in the groove and could not help but windmill or headbang every time the album was on. It also feels like they’ve developed more voice since the last album with all of the songs feeling more coherent, and a better union between their blackened thrash and death influences.
Command Of The Infernal March
- Great energetic start to the album
- All of the instruments work well together to make the solo deliver
- Love the vocal distortion and reverb, delivers a properly evil sound
- Great dive bomb into solo
- Love the ambient effects and slow play out at the end of the song
- Great intro, especially the drum fills and the later lead guitar whammy bar work
- Unstoppable headbanging groove
- Especially evil sounding bass tone
- One of the slower songs on the album along with Ensanguined
- Excellent, long solo mid song which transitions back into the song well
Per Tenebras Ad Lucren
- The riffs tread more into the mid range in this song and the tone is great
- Lead guitar does more work on top of the rhythm guitar in this song
‘Til Death and Beyond
- Great solo with a cool disjointed start and great instrumental progression
- Drumline intro that transitions well into the song
- Love mid song bridges with a cornucopia of dive bombs into to the bass to guitar trade off section
- Great production and effects
- Incredibly dynamic
- Love the long slow play out
This album is great. The songwriting sticks to fundamentals but manages to stand out and create dynamic songs. The production and tone is on point, with especially stand out performances from the lead guitar and drums. The album goes by at a breakneck speed and you might just break your neck rocking out to it.
Favorite Track: Tombspawn
You’re ‘gunna hurt your neck/ 10
This band doesn’t suck.
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