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HAIL OF BULLETS
HAIL OF BULLETS
III: The Rommel Chronicles
(Metal Blade Records)
45:48min

One of the first (if not the first) super groups in Death Metal is back again. HAIL OF BULLETS consist of members of former or present members of ASPHYX, GOREFEST, THANATOS and countless other bands. But, hey, do I really need to tell you that? If you weren't deep frozen for the last seven years or so, you all should know that! So let's flip to 2013 and '"III: The Rommel Chronicles" straight away. After three years full of work with their other bands, the Dutch warmachine is back with another album that is concentrating on a historical topic centered in World War II. After the war on the Eastern front in Europe on their 2008 debut "...Of Frost And War" (still one of my absolute fave albums of the first decade of this century) and the Pacific War ("On Divine Winds", 2010), Martin chose not to write lyrics about what happened on certain fronts this time, but he chose to depict a character that was of extreme importance during the war. As the album title already reveals, the album tells the story of German field marshal general Erwin Rommel's life, the famous desert fox who won important battles in World War II, especially at the North African front. Well known not only for capturing Tobruk, but also for a deciding defeat at the battle of El-Alamain, Rommel was a quite ambivalent person. Known for his integrity as a soldier and strategist, glorified for his victories by the Nazi propaganda, his real attitudes seemed to be unpolitical and quite naïve towards the holocaust and the mass murder of the Hitler regime. Also it's not clear, wether and for what reasons he took part in the resistance of the German military command and the unsuccessful assassination on Hitler in 1944. At least these happenings lead to his death. But I'm not here to teach you a history lesson, that's the job of Martin van Drunen and "III: The Rommel Chronicles" today. The music on the album is a little step back to the famous, mind blowing debut, without neglecting the a more melodic and technical aspect of "On Divine Winds". The musical abilities of the band members shouldn't be questioned anyway, Ed Warby (drums) and Theo van Eekelen (bass) laid down a very tight foundation, leaving Stephan Gebédi and Paul Baayens all the space they need to fire their extremely variable guitar riffing spiced with harmonies. Need an example? Take the opener 'Swoop Of The Falcon', a slowly grooving cruncher that leaves no question unanswered. The following 'Pour Le Mérite', maybe already known due to the promo video clip on youtube, delivers the opposite - a headbanging smasher with a slow break to give your neck a little rest. But don't think HAIL OF BULLETS have shot their bolts with these two. Any track on "III: The Rommel Chronicles" delivers finest stuff on a very high level, be it the full speed attack 'To The Last Breath Of Man And Beast' or the haunting 'DAK'. Spiced with fine, intelligent breaks like those classic Metal inspired guitar break in 'The Final Front' and crowned by another brilliant vocal delivery of Martin van Drunen - this man is only able to deliver highest quality! But there are two really outstanding tracks that need to be mentioned here. 'DG-7' is the ultimate HAIL OF BULLETS song, full of breaks, ranging from a Doom Death introduction over slow grooving parts with melodic guitars to headbanging fast parts. In the end there's a melodic slow break, leading to the haunting end with Martin growling a haunting "Gespensterdivision". And with the final 'Death Of A Field Marshal', HAIL OF BULLETS take the cake! This song shows a new side of the band and is rooted deeper in classic Metal than any other song they ever recorded. It delivers pure Doom Metal in the beginning, before the song turns out to be a Death Doom monster at its best, with a stress still on Doom. The use of a spoken word sample in German (from a movie?) in the end even reminds of some Epic Doom bands. Is there any better way to end a great album? Nope! HAIL OF BULLETS fans can buy this one blindly, if they already didn't, any other connoisseur of fine Death Metal would never do anything wrong buying "III: The Rommel Chronicles", for this album offers three-quarters of an hour of the finest (the DVD "Bullets Over Europe", that is included in the limited first edition digibook, additionally includes several live tracks, that were mostly pro-shot at various festivals across Europe, as well as the official promo video for 'Operation Z', an interview with Martin van Drunen and some backstage / behind the scenes footage - Frank). If you need further information, go to: www.hailofbullets.com, www.facebook.com/hailofbulletsofficial or www.metalblade.de

Thomas Meyer

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