IRONHAWK “Rituals of the War Path”

SPELLFORGER “Upholders of Evil”

By Dr. Abner Mality

One of the best underground labels that is flying under the radar these days has to be Dying Victims Productions from Germany. They have a great ear for bands doing traditional thrash and speed metal in true 80’s fashion. Well, here are a couple of new names in that genre that are really worth checking out!

IRONHAWK from Tasmania are the shit! If you could envision the perfect mix between BATHORY’s first album and the d-beat influenced thrashpunk of British bands like SACRILEGE and AMEBIX, this would be it. It sounds like it came from a time warp of 1985. Another trademark of bands on Dying Victims is how well they actually capture the sound of a bygone age. “Rituals of the War Path” has a crispy, murky production right out of the first BATHORY and SACRILEGE LP’s. The snarling punk vocals have a metallic echo that is just so friggin’ cool! The bass on this album is fatter than a sumo wrestler at a buffet. The lead guitar soloing is thin and tweedy, without a lot of power, but the sound is just so endearing. And IRONHAWK digs up some monster riffs over the course of the album, with some of the best being the d-beat power chug of “Eternal Winter”, the annihilating “Doomsday Rider” and the thick and chewy lope of “Into the Circle”. If you don’t mind the archaic production, IRONHAWK have come up with one hell of an album here!

SPELLFORGER come from the steamy jungles of Indonesia and have also delved deeply into ancient crypts with their mini-LP “Upholders of Evil”. These guys are coming from a different place than IRONHAWK but are just as dedicated to their sound. It’s prime South American death/thrash like old SEPULTURA mixed with generous doses of early DESTRUCTION style thrash. Kinda derivative, but again, excellent riffs and there is also a commitment to making the songs sound different from each other. For example, “Curse of the Lycans” leads slightly towards the melody of true speed metal while “Black Spellcrafters” is just total thrash annihilation. Yes, many South American and Southeast Asian bands favor this oldschool style, but SPELLFORGER are doing it better than most.

Two Dying Victims bands you should surely seek out!