By Gary Wright

The Curse Of Hail 'Identical Paths' (2015)

The Curse Of Hail is a 5-piece death metal band from Des Moines, Iowa. Incorporating elements of technical death metal, melodic death metal, thrash metal, progressive metal, and djent, the band brings a new spin on what the average person calls 'metal'. The line-up is Ken Payne on lead vocals, Josh Adamson on lead guitar, Luke Haffner on rhythm guitar, Ben Monroe on bass/backup vocals, and Adam Baszczynski on drums. The band's full-length album, 'Identical Paths' (2015), has 10 tracks of musical brutality and wizardry in equal measures, consisting of one of the heaviest, yet most bizarre sounds you may ever experience. The album starts off with an intro track, an exquisite and daunting slow piano number, that picks up with a slow glitch drum mix thrown in about halfway through. It's a cruel act on the band's part, as it lures you into a false sense of security making you think that you're in for an easy listening album.

Next comes the first track to show you what the band really wants you to hear... a boast of inhumanity beyond your imagination. Throughout the album, you'll experience multiple vocal styles, and indeed multiple vocal layers, to create a frenzied atmosphere that is briefly calmed by the occasional use of haunting clean, and sometimes ethereal, vocals. More traditional monster-like death growls, along with an almost witch-like, raspy vocal style are traded back-and-forth to create a kind of duelling verbal assault. In fact, it's this raspy vocal style that actually adds a distinct black metal feel to the band's otherwise uncategorized sound. Highly technical - often beautiful - clean, wailing, lead guitar soloing can be heard throughout. Churning, flailing, thrashing rhythm guitar adds a cut-throat wall of terror. Compelling, often intimidating, bass adds a thickness and groove to the mix. Drum work includes deafening blast-beats, black metal-esque crash accents, and bludgeoning double-bass, that makes for some of the finest display of a musician's discipline you'll ever hear.

My favorite track is 'Lake Of Three Fires', which I also feel is a unique track on this album. After just 20 seconds in from the fury, the listener is treated to some remarkably catchy, virtuoso, guitar soloing. The song then descends momentarily into a moody Eastern feel, before ascending back into an all-out auditory fusillade. Full-on, flailing guitars and bold, lightning-fast double-bass drumming set the tone for an anthem that screams to be heard and acknowledged. Some cleanly-sung vocals around three-quarters of the way through add a poignant value to an otherwise vicious track. In summary, this album will appeal to those of you who appreciate astonishing musicianship and prefer a cutting-edge take on your extreme metal.

*** I'd like to thank Ben Monroe for taking the time to look over this review before its release. ***

Note that this review was written for the [HammerFist Rose] website, where this review is published. This review is published on this website with permission.

The Curse Of Hail's 'Identical Paths' album is available to download now on Bandcamp.

The Curse Of Hail (Bandcamp)
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