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Review: Steel Bearing Hand - Slay in Hell
Steel Bearing Hand
Slay in Hell

Label: Carbonized Records
Year released: 2021
Duration: 39:24
Tracks: 6
Genre: Death/Thrash

Rating: 4.25/5

Review online: April 13, 2021
Reviewed by: Micah.Ram
Readers Rating
Slay in Hell

Rated 4/5 (80%) (2 Votes)

When you see a band name like Steel Bearing Hand among a lineup of albums to check out, it's hard not to be curious about a band with such a cool name. One might expect this to be some Eternal Champion-esque brand of Heavy Metal when contemplating the band name, but this band is actually pushing out some intense Death/Thrash and doing it rather well. Another thing to notice here is a very impressive album cover that is quite stimulating to look at.

There are only six tracks on Slay in Hell, but the variety of content is still impressive. The first two songs sit just under the four-minute mark with the next three tracks being a couple minutes longer on average. What stands out when looking at the tracking here though is the twelve and a half-minute closer, "Ensanguined." We'll talk about that one more in a moment. In addition, this is one of those albums that passes you by rather quickly and will have you replaying it again and again.

What's on offer here is a very guitar-forward album in which the first two tracks kill with their speed and riff-driven deliveries. The vocals are fitting of both Thrash and Death Metal, sometimes very low, and also sitting higher at times fitting more with the Thrash Metal sensibilities. The vocals sound very good, but it may be a sticking point for some that they are not very centered in the mix. Instead, they sound somewhat distant, which is fine by me given how good the guitar work is. The first track comes across as a much more thrashy number, while the second track is decidedly more Death Metal with its riff styles which contain more use of tremolo riffs laying down a thick and heavy wall of sound within the fretwork. A major highlight of the record is the third track, "Tombspawn." It feels somewhat epic, mostly due to the change of pace it brings, becoming a slow dragging riff monster for the first few minutes. The low Death Metal vocals here are very powerful and effective, suiting the intense tone of the first half effectively. The second half kicks into high gear and slays with its killer guitar work.

Did I mention this album was guitar-centric? Track four, "Per Tenebras Ad Lucem" features very few vocal parts before turning into a lengthy guitar solo trade session. This track clearly switches to be more heavily leaning into Thrash Metal territories. Track five opens with a guitar riff that sounds somewhat inspired by '80s Heavy Metal before ripping into high-speed thrashing riffs, and it's a ton of fun. However, there is a transitional moment in the middle of this song to a mid-speed section which is one of my favorite shifts in the whole album. The guitar soloing at the end is rather impressive too, like with the rest of the album. The whammy bar abuse is perfectly fine here, perfectly complementing the speedy and virtuosic delivery of other areas of these solos. The sixth track is the closer I mentioned earlier. It is an epic number due to its use of Doom in the mix. It's not a very expectable feature after four of the five tracks preceding it mostly featured speedy performances, but the band pulls this off rather effectively due to their mastery of the groove and riff writing. If the opening riff and groove do not get you banging your head, you might want to check your pulse and make sure you're not dead. It does drop down into a much slower, repeated riff that truly hits the Doom subgenre sound. It is interesting enough that it works, but for some it may be repeated too much. The slow section does break off for another quick ripper that sounds more like what they did on track 5 before returning to the doomy riff and closing it off that way in fade-out fashion. One could not say they did not try to deliver everything they're capable of when considering the variety within their body of work here.

With their second full-length album, Slay in Hell, Steel Bearing Hand delivered the goods within an impressive package with ambitious writing and killer riffage. If you're a fan of Death/Thrash, there is absolutely no reason not to give this album a few spins.

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