April 18, 2014 | , | 4.25

Hail of Bullets, III The Rommel Chronicles

Hail of Bullets: III The Rommel Chronicles

War is not an infant theme when it comes to extreme metal. Bands have been heralding the topic of combat since day one, but one band has taken war’s historical significance — specifically that of World War II — to realm that few have managed to conquer. Hail of Bullets have been cranking out destructive artillery since their debut in 2007 and their latest, III The Rommel Chronicles, sees them carrying the tattered flag of war metal once again into the fray.

Having already explored the eastern and western fronts (…of Frost and War and On Divine Wings respectively), the guys have decided, this time around, to focus on a single entity of WWII. Erwin Rommel was not only a masterful leader in the German army, he was also a decent human being — frequently disobeying orders to kill innocent civilians, Jewish citizens or prisoners of war. He was apparently also part of a movement late in the campaign to bring Hitler to justice. Seems like his story and his position in history would make for solid material for some rolling, Bolt Thrower influenced, old school death metal.

And that’s exactly what we have here in these ten tracks.

Hail of Bullets essentially tell of Rommel’s life from birth to death with their blend of rumbling rhythms, melodic sweeps and churning riffage. “Swoop of the Falcon” announces Rommel’s arrival upon this earth with chugging guitars, Martin van Drunen’s snarling, desperate growls, and Ed Warby’s even temper on the drum kit — the dude certainly knows when to bring power to the song as well as when to let the melodic elements take over. It’s a solid start to a great album. “Pour le Mérite” is a raucous follow-up with the band’s booted feet firmly planted on the accelerator — and your exposed throat.

“DG-7” feels like hulking tanks rolling over your spine, reversing, and then steamrolling you second time — even as it delivers some surprising melody. “DAK” echos the foreboding march of battle as it lumbers along at first before stepping up the mayhem. “The Desert Fox,” Rommel’s nickname, also incorporates some excellent melody within the churning riffage and martial drumming. It’s a massive song that combines all the band does well into a single complete package.

III The Rommel Chronicles sees Hail of Bullets firing on all cylinders. The guys charge their way through these ten tracks like a massive Tiger tank hell-bent on flattening anything in its path. It’s interesting to see them take on a singular subject as they’ve done here. One can only wonder who or what topic they have in their sights for the next album.