Label: M-Theory Audio
Release date: 24 January 2020
Format reviewed: Digital Promo
HAZZERD is a thrash quartet whose lead singer is behind the drum kit. You read that correctly – singer Dylan Westendorp is also double-kicking much of the time – so let that sink in for a moment.
But having a frontman in the background is just the icing on the cake that is “Delirium”, the second full-length offering from the Calgary-based group. Eight of the album’s 10 songs (two are instrumentals) are full-on, back-to-basics thrash attacks, which as the title suggests were composed with the goal of assaulting listeners’ senses and psyche. The dual-guitar attack that opens the lead track, “Sacrifice Them In The Name Of God” sets the tone for much of the album through tales of lunacy, blood, chaos, and societal upheaval. The songs are not praising these themes (they aren’t calling for anarchy), but merely reporting and possibly prophesying them.
The album cover even suggests that amid the cacophony, violence, and trauma, the ignorance found in commercially-packaged individualism – represented in the background by one patient seemingly unharmed by fixing his gaze on his mobile phone – will also contribute to the societal downfall.
“Victim of a Desperate Mind” is a standout track, leading with a haunting bassline that resurfaces after the chorus. After the song’s midpoint, it becomes a trade between verses and solos, the first of which begins at the 3:49 mark until 4:20. Westendorp sings another brief verse over the dual guitar attack before more blistering guitar work comes back in for another 50 seconds. The structure is repeated, but it is performed with such speed and precision before giving way to an even faster instrumental outro that – once you realize the song ends – you are practically required to press the |<< button for another listen.
“Dead in the Shed” is the band at its hokeyist. The song is an almost-humorous tale of a man named Bill, whose life took a tragic turn after taking too many drugs and hallucinogens. As Westendorp sings, with a remarkably intelligible yet guttural delivery: “May he rest in peace, the stupid SOB / That’s what he gets for overdosing on LSD / Remember kids to stay off drugs and go to school / Or listen to Bill and you’ll end up…dead in the shed.” Following the second chorus, there’s even a quick nod to the trademark guitar whistle from Steve Miller Band’s, “The Joker” before the high-octane solos kick in.
“Delirium” marks a slight progression since their last full-length, “Misleading Evil”. That album is perhaps even more brutal than “Delirium”, but the latter marks an improvement with a bit more polish in production and songwriting.
Thrash has historically had its big four, and with “Delirium” kicking off this new decade, it seems that at least three of the next big four will start with ‘H’: Hatchet, Havok and now, HAZZERD. 8.5/10 Justin Smulison
8.5/10 To Greatness and Glory!
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