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Hammer Horde - Under The Mighty Oath (CD)

Hammer Horde
Under The Mighty Oath
by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos at 12 April 2009, 12:11 AM

The artwork and title are really tempting in this case based on the common knowledge that Vikings and Metal music mix well. Actually, there is an entire scene built upon these foundations that lately has been proved to be quite active. So, the Ohio US based Metal Viking warriors HAMMER HORDE, hailing from this scene, are here with their debut album entitled Under The Mighty Oath well kept inside their drakkar.
Despite the visual resemblances to AMON AMARTH, the US band does not belong to the Death Metal scene where the Swedes dominate. Their genre is closer to the so-called Pagan Metal scene with the Black Metal finishing touches in the vein of bands like WAYLANDER or ENSIFERUM.
The story of HAMMER HORDE begins when Smith and Cesna left FOREVER LOST and rejoined to form a new band. Actually, this started as a two-man project and then evolved into a full scale act. After almost two years, the band tries to enter the Metal scene with Under The Mighty Oath as their stepping stone.
The Epic intro leads to the first song Pierced By Odin's Spear that enters with distinct guitar riffs that breath the same air with ENSIFERUM. When the tempo gains some bpms HAMMER HORDE take the Pagan Metal path with Black-ish vocals accompanied by some clean Euro Power ones (way in the back). The sing-along melodies are kind of predictable, but if you are into this genre then you have a 'problem.' The keyboards add some sound diversity taking the band a step farther from their easy to spot influences. Finnvox Studio took over the final mastering that looked over the guitar riffs through the Gothenburg scene's looking glass. As it usually happens, the album follows the 'war song' recipe with extreme vocals and choir-like backing voices. In the Name of the Winter's Wrath clocks almost eight minutes and manages to keep the interest in high levels. I mean the MAIDEN-esque solo with the underlying BATHORY - from the Hammerheart era - is definitely worth mentioning and listening. Pagan is the main issue in Farewell To The Fallen where the flute and the clean guitar sounds virtually take you on icy cold landscapes filled with Norse mythology figures.
HAMMER HORDE like to use long time durations bring the song duration into an average of seven minutes; fortunately this does not mean boring songs mainly due to the nice guitar riffs and the clean vocals that frequently take over the leading role. Triumph Of Sword And Shield is the perfect example to my saying; the uplifting melodies change places with the fast drum work while everything is surrounded by the Celtic wind instrument sounds.
All in all, this album is something new to the US metal scene judging by the Metalcore madness that reigns. HAMMER HORDE brought all the North European influences and by adding some of their ideas created a nice debut that can (and I think will) gather around them a solid fan base. If you are into this sound add one point to my rating and then pay a visit to the band's MySpace page to discover more.

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
Storm Of Pagan Skies
Pierced By Odin's Spear
Under The Mighty Oath
In The Name Of The Winter's Wrath
Howl Of Himinbjorg
Farewell To The Fallen
Triumph Of Sword And Shield
Through Celestial Seascapes
Of Legends And Lore
Seafarer
Lineup:
Tom Sturniolo - Vocals, Ocarina
Jayson Cessna - Drums
Ben McGeorge - Bass
Ryan Mininger - Guitar, Keyboards
Derik Smith - Vocals, Guitar
Record Label: Storm Surge Records
     


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