Hand Of Doom – Stray From The Path
Release Date: 06/01/23
Running Time: 35:35
Review by Dark Juan
Here I am and here I remain. Even if my hearing hasn’t remained. I have foolishly been left to my own devices downstairs while Mrs Dark Juan has a snooze upstairs as she FINALLY succumbs to her almost Soviet work ethic. But without the gulags, oppression and Communism, obviously. There is no place for that sort of business in the glorious People’s Republic Of West Yorkshire where lads are lads and the lasses are… rather harder than the lads to be honest, judging by the amount of dresses a smidgeon below minge-base and high heels I have seen tottering through actual blizzards on my infrequent visits to the local hostelries.
To be fair, that WAS just the lads.
Anyway, I am not here to tell you about the attire of the frankly terrifying ladies of the Calder Valley. A mere two of them have more teeth than the entire Osmond family and it is quite a singular sight to behold, ah tell thee. I AM HERE to tell you about the record I am currently spinning upon the goodly and puissant Platter of Splatter ™, which is one of our august editor Simon “Be Grateful It Wasn’t The Triple-CD Symphonic Power Metal One I Sent You, Despite You Agitating To Give It To Rory, You Massive Bullying Arsehole” Black’s wild card choices. This is a system we have evolved at Ever-Metal Towers to try and get some very underground bands some media coverage and bring them to the attention of the record-buying public, especially when they are doing all their own PR and pressing and the like. Obviously, with the pressures of day jobs, extremely limited budgets, families and suchlike, their requests don’t always get to us in time for release date, and such was the case with London-based Hand Of Doom, a Death Metal power trio. Hence the January release date. It didn’t help that their Google Drive file was password protected and I had to wait to gain access to the music, but gain entrance (fnarr fnarr) I did and now I am subjecting the inside of my head to some good old-fashioned violent fun.
First impressions of the album are that it is varied and surprising – for a Death Metal band, Hand Of Doom collectively possess considerably more chops musically than your average gorehounds. There’s elements of classic Morrisound Studios DM in the music as well as a rather strong Slayer influence in parts, although the production of the record is very much of the 80s Eurothrash blueprint. The guitar work is especially good, although lacking a certain amount of meat in the sound – a thicker sound would have been to the advantage of the band as their music needs a bit of chonk to it. However, there are times where the curiously lightweight production works, for example on the Hardcore-tinged ‘Blades’. Allowances must be made, however, for this is a debut record, and for the reasons I have already detailed in the paragraph prior to this one.
‘Living Corpse’ is a fucking decent tune though – a mix of Biohazard and Deicide without a branded dickhead at the helm. Speedy, dangerous and uncompromisingly murderous, this song lights the pleasure centres of Dark Juan’s brain up like a locked room full of half-naked virgins and a Viagra dispenser that Dark Juan has the only key for. Both the dispenser and the room…
The album opens and closes with some gorgeous chord medleys and classical guitar work and the title track (and album closer) is also worthy of note for the use of keyboards in there that brought a tear to this jaded old bastard’s eye because it reminded him of ‘Chapel of Ghouls’ by Morbid Angel. This can only be a good thing, because Hand Of Doom don’t play a style of DM like that so it is a nod and a knowing wink rather than blatant copyism. The music on the record as a whole is satisfyingly complex and well played and executed. There’s the odd dodgy switch of tempos or keys but it doesn’t detract from the enjoyment of the music which has an interesting Technical element to it without making Hand Of Doom a Tech Death band – dare I say this and piss the band off? Fuck it all, I’m going in. There’s the odd element of Kings X, of all people, that I can hear in there that lends an unusual (but wholly welcome) almost Prog element to the music. I have to say that I dig it.
One thing I fucking don’t dig though, is the utterly appalling drum sound on this album. The bass drum especially sounds like it is made from Amazon delivery boxes and plywood and is being whacked with a perilously close to being rotten halibut. It emits a flat, flaccid thud. The snare is frequently inaudible and the bass drum overpowers the rest of the kit to an alarming degree at times. When the drummer bashes the tinware, there are two options as to what the tinware is going to do – it either cowers trembling behind the sofa where it can’t be discerned, or it inhales a shitload of Bolivian marching powder and is all up in your face spoiling for a good old-fashioned straightener on the cobbles. There’s no happy medium. Also while I am criticising the production – stop doing a Newsted on the bassist and turn the poor fucker up. The vocals are fucking ear-shatteringly magnificent though.
The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System has this to say about Hand Of Doom – they are a band that exude considerable promise and certainly have the talent to go far and do very very well, but they need to start exercising a bit of quality control on the production front and maybe invest a little more in this going forward. Otherwise, a jolly fine record that gets 6/10 for a flawed, but promising debut.
01. The Endless Path
03. Barbed Wire Noose
04. Bleeding Mind
05. Creeping Black
07. Living Corpse
08. Stray From The Path
Gus Everitt – Guitar, vocals
Andreas Morelli-Mae – Bass, vocals
Jonathan Hanen – Drums
Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Dark Juan and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.