Bay Area thrash revivalists HATCHET have already faced the growing pains of any band, much less the forefathers from whom they take inspiration. HATCHET has been slinging it out since 2008. The band was met with the metal underground’s favor with their last full-length, “Dawn of the End”. In the intervening two years, vocalist/guitarist Julz Ramos lost his crew, returning fortified by second guitarist Clayton Cagle, bassist Joey Karpowicz and drummer Ben Smith. HATCHET thus resumes its course with “Fear Beyond Lunacy”, a well-performed replication of classic San Fran thrash, reminiscent of TESTAMENT, DEATH ANGEL, HEATHEN and EXODUS along with L.A.’s AGENT STEEL.
“Fear Beyond Lunacy” cooks more than it rests, elegantly starting out with the tasteful, flamenco-kissed instrumental “Where Time Cannot Exist”, which is swept asunder by the breakneck carnage of “Living in Extinction”. Julz Ramos notes that “Living in Extinction” was inspired by the horror film “The Chernobyl Diaries”. The nuclear meltdown disaster at Pripyat has propagated a slew of multimedia ventures spanning movies and television to video games. Musicians ranging from David Bowie to KRAFTWERK to MUNICIPAL WASTE have touched on the topic before, as have other would-be thrash acts bearing the word “Chernobyl” in their monikers. HATCHET‘s “Living in Extinction” continues this morbid fascination with the abandoned city, and their audile meltdown here comes in the form of a spectacular shred-solo by Julz Ramos and Clayton Cagle.
The pair shine all over “Fear Beyond Lunacy” such as on fast-moving numbers such as “Lethal Justince”, “Dead and Gone”, “Tearing Into Hell”, “Prophet of Delusion” and “Frozen World”. Mid-tempo pumpers such as “The World Beyond” and “Killing Indulgence” still carry a ton of moshing thrust. The guitar solos on this thing are sick at every turn, and the songs are sharply crafted, if not reminiscent of the old days, only with richer production. There’s not much further description needed of “Fear Beyond Lunacy”, and no doubt HATCHET would consider that a compliment.