The last 25 years of metal never happened as far as Texas’ STEEL BEARING HAND is concerned, and that’s alright by me. These Lone Star Lunatics have constructed a love letter to the death and thrash metal of the late ’80s and early ’90s on Slay In Hell, steadfastly ignoring any “progression” since those days. By focusing on what they know and love, they’ve pretty much whipped the ass of any banger who lays ears on this.
The album is just six tracks and pretty brief, but packs a lot into its length. The best thing about Slay In Hell is that each track has its own sound and its own set of influences. ‘Command Of The Infernal Exarch’ is some pretty cutting blackened thrash and the most “modern” song here, which is not saying all that much. Well, things only get more intense from there, as ‘Lich Gate’ has a more bestial, primitive sound with the vocals being much lower and more guttural than the opener. Overtones of old SLAYER and SODOM predominate. Now we are getting to the real SBH. With ‘Tombspawn’, everything is kicked up several dozen notches. This is a pure clinic in riffology, with massive sludgy hooks bringing to mind CELTIC FROST and CIANIDE. The band peppers all of their songs with copious leads that are either cat-strangling squeals or surprisingly neo-classical shredding. It’s a textbook on what made old school extreme metal great.
No mercy is given with ‘Per Tenebras Ad Lucem’, which is more evil thrash bringing to mind the early days of DESTRUCTION and the German thrash scene. As furious as this cut is, it’s a mere warmup for ‘Til Death And Beyond’. This fucker lays everything to waste with a vicious attack of utter THRASH…fast and furious to the max and one of the best pure thrashers these ears have heard in many a year. The album ends with the 12 minute-plus ‘Ensanguined’. A cut of this length is difficult to pull off and true to form, much of this is ponderous death-doom like the slower AUTOPSY, with plenty of squealing solos. The pace picks up to blistering levels for a while before ending once more in tank-like fashion.
I’ve heard the name of STEEL BEARING HAND floating in the underground for a while now, and the hype has not been misplaced. Grizzled vets with SODOM and RAZOR patches on tattered denim will fall to their knees in worship of Slay In Hell.
Review By: Dr. Abner Mality
STEEL BEARING HAND
Slay In Hell
4.5 / 6