Hobbs’ Angel of Death – “Heaven Bled” (High Roller Records)
A veritable underground legend, Peter Hobbs has been going since 1985 and has to be the founding father of the Australian Thrash metal scene. Forming his own band playing ‘black virgin metal from down under’, Hobbs’ Angel of Death released their self titled debut in 1987 aimed squarely at the Euro thrash scene. The band dissolved soon after but 8 years later, and with a new line up, Hobbs emerged with an Australian only follow up release, before yet another break up and a hiatus throughout the remainder of the 90s. In 2002, Hobbs reformed with yet another new band and began sporadically touring over the next decade. In recent years, with increased touring and a feature in the Australian metal documentary “Metal Down Under”, Hobbs has become more active, culminating in the release of this 3rd album – which certainly pulls no punches even if Hobbs himself is approaching grandad status! Recruiting a European line up of veterans in Swedish guitarist Simon Wizen (Valkyrja, Die Hard, Ondskapt), bassist Alessio Medici and drummer Iago Bruchi both of Italy’s Violentor, “Heaven Bled” – which Hobbs recorded no less than 3 times – lives up in every aspect to Hobbs’ own legacy (not to mention his perfectionist standards!). Although renowned for being rooted in early 80s Slayer – and there’s no doubt about that when you hear searing tracks like ‘Suicide’ – what really impressed me about “Heaven Bled” is that it is so much more, in fact, an all around heavy metal album that takes in death metal, skate thrash and even black metal – not to mention some mind blowing quality melodies – so clearly Peter is a man with some song writing skill honed over the decades! One thing is for certain though – this is a heavy album and not for wimps!! Despite being over 20 years since his last recording, the material is of such rich quality that it is not only fresh, but immediately grabbing with riffs, licks, wailing solos and grooves all distilled from the finest quality to produce the ‘pure virgin metal’ that Peter has constantly referred to over the years. With his own voice sounding amazingly like a young Tom Araya, the band deliver the blows over 12 high pressure numbers from the searing black / thrash of ‘Walk My Path’, completed by Wizen’s tasty melodies who gets to shine even more on ‘Drawn And Quartered’ with more awesome guitar work spread through the number in between the furious blast beats of the never flagging Bruchi! The more punky / skate element rears its head on ‘TMMF’ with its rhyming lyrics, shout outs and monster riffs made all the more ball grabbing thanks to some skillful tempo changes – its almost like listening to a 3 in 1 song – awesome!!! A truly astounding comeback release and rather than classifying this as ‘retro’ I prefer to think of this as a ‘reminder’ of what true heavy metal should be all about – and it couldn’t have come from a greater man than Peter Hobbs.