HAIL OF BULLETS "III: The Rommel Chronicles"

KILL DIVISION "Destructive Force"

By Dr. Abner Mality

Holland's contribution to heavy metal is mighty despite the small size of the country. Many great extreme bands have risen from the Lowlands, not the least of which are Asphyx, God Dethroned, Pestilence and Legion of the Damned. Quite a few Dutch bands have popped up with new releases recently and Metal Blade has a lot of them.

Hail of Bullets are a well-known force strongly linked with elders of the scene like Asphyx, Gorefest and Thanatos. "III: The Rommel Chronicles" is pretty's the third full-length and it continues their lyrical fascination with World War II by creating concept album based on the life of German commander Erwin Rommel. I'm sure that will trip the triggers of a lot of knee-jerk leftists. Actually, the album has zero to do with Naziism and is more of a sober rendering of Rommel's military career. It's also another cartridge in HOB's bullet belt of pure brutal metal. It retans the grinding pure sound of their past releases, but seems a little bit more thought-out than before, as cuts like "Farewell to Africa" and "Death of Field Marshall" demonstrate. The agonizing vocals of Martin Van Drunen remain as extreme as ever and though the band's musical growth has been negligible, the pulverizing panzer attack of "Pour Le Merite" and the awesome "Tobruk" prove irresistable. I still find Hail of Bullet's debut "Of Frost and War" to be their most satisfying, but they keep the kill count high with "The Rommel Chronicles".

I expected much the same from new band Kill Division, which includes ex-members of God Dethroned, Asphyx and Legion of the Damned. With such a pantheon, I was looking forward to a beatdown. Instead, "Destructive Force" is a disappointment. The songs stick to the template of fast thrashy metal, but they are really bland and just don't stick in the head like they should. The songs are short and mostly unmemorable, the vocals average, the riffing uninspired. There are ghosts of the band Kill Division could be, especially on "Toxic World" and "Generated Hate", but overall the impression is of Dutch death metal filler that doesn't measure up to the giants who inspired them. It's not a horrible album, but I expected way more from these guys.