Hatchet – “Dying To Exist” (Combat Records/EMP Label Group)
Back in the early 80s, Combat was one of the top underground labels, hosting bands such as Megadeth, Dark Angel, Nuclear Assault, Death and Possessed – to name but a few. Finally dissolved after being taken over by Sony Records, last year it was announced that Combat was being relaunched by none other than Megadeth bassist David Ellefson! True to the label’s proud legacy, Ellefson is returning it back to its glory, with Bay Area thrashers Hatchet being one of their latest signings. Formed in 2006, these guys have already released 3 prior albums and completed 3 full DIY U.S. tours, touring with the likes of Soilwork, Doyle, Metal Church, Flotsam and Jetsam, Helstar – to name but a few! Centred around the twin guitar attack of vocalist Julz Ramos and Clayton Cagle, Hatchet are as mean ass as their name suggests, with powering high speed riffola, chopping beats and wild solos. But equally, there’s also plenty of melody in the material too, making for 12 catchy tracks that while screaming of old school intensity, also resonate a modern touch that should have a wide appeal. On this 4th outing, the band also incorporate some smart tempo changes and I have to commend the performances, as they are incredibly tight, making “Dying To Exist” probably Hatchet’s best record to date. It’s pretty clear from songs like ‘Illusions Of Hope”, with Ramos’s high raw tones (akin to Mille Petrozza of Kreator) matching the twin shredding guitars, while exuding catchy licks and most of all, a chundering groove alongside some highly memorable melodies. Galloping away on ‘Final Sanctuary’ accompanied by more spellbounding melodies to meet the frantic pace, Hatchet hit the boundaries of melodic Scandi death, but who cares, cos it sounds so damn good! Slowing things down to a more rocking pace on ‘Back Into Dust’, you can feel the earlier influences of Priest, with plenty of aggression sitting comfortably with the melodies, while injecting 80s thrash breakaways through the dexterous guitars and most of all, a hugely catchy chorus that should sound great shouted out at concerts. Hatchet are great band and Ellefson has done great things here by returning the opportunity he was given to a new generation in keeping metal alive!