“To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women…” – Conan, when asked what is best in life by the Mongol general.
It’s probably a pretty safe assumption that most doom-oriented bands throughout the vast history of heavy music could somehow claim some sort of appreciation, if not unwavering allegiance, to the sentiment behind those words spoken by the celebrated barbarian and/or destroyer of comic book and movie legend. However, it could also just as easily be assumed that some are more authentic in their bond with the old-school doom connection with all things Conan or Dungeons and Dragons alike. What may be surprising to some, is the apparent fact that age and experience on the bloodied battlefield does not always indicate that level of sincerity. You don’t have to be sixty years old to pull off a genuine, old-school doom sound and your band doesn’t have to have worldwide status before it can pulverize everyone’s skull into dust with ease. Your don’t have to be seasoned vets to deliver one of the best albums of the year. It’s with that notion, ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, faithful readers, raging proof of these ideas…Exhibit fucking A.
Direct from the Orc-infested bowels of rural Bloomfield, Indiana, comes a battle-ready trio of young warriors collectively known as Thorr-Axe. Initially formed in November of 2007 by vocalist/guitarist Tucker Thomasson and original bassist, Travis Roach, had a bit of a rocky start with line-up changes before eventually solidifying and unleashing the highly-praised Roots Of The Mountain EP in January of 2010 with the masterful help of Iron Bob Fouts (Apostle of Solitude, ex-The Gates of Slumber) behind the boards. That year, the band witnessed the fruits of their labor in the form of performances throughout southern Indiana and significant radio publicity. In January of this year, Thorr-Axe returned to Basement Rage Studio to again have their work recorded and mixed by Fouts. The results of that collaboration can be heard on the band’s thunderous debut full-length, Wall of Spears.
It is with this record that Thorr-Axe (now comprised of Thomasson, bassist Mitchell McKinney and new addition, Niko Albanese, behind the kit) have apparently honed their craft to the sharpness of a guillotine. Erupting from a wall of feedback, the instrumental intro, “Raise Your Horns” sets the mood nicely before the album’s title track lets the listener know just how much these guys have stepped up their game since the release of their 2010 demo. Falling well in league with the likes of Sleep and High On Fire, Thorr-Axe definitely have a knack for memorable, epically-minded riffs, soaring solos, a moving sense of groove and a vocal approach that combines the aggression of old-school doom metal with a somewhat punky “fuck-it-all” attitude, as can be heard on the majestically thrashing “The Island” (a definite highlight of many). The band further exercises their instrumental prowess on “March of the Wizards” before “Dragon King” blows the doors off doom-style with a tale of war against those bastard Orcs of legends past. “Hall Under The Mountain” follows suit in the form of a swift and lethal juggernaut. Closing number, “Sundering Of The Frost Giant”, weaves a wizard-vs.-jotun story with grand-as-all-hell instrumentation, worthy of a horn-raising toast of praise in the feasting hall!
Wall Of Spears invokes a raging world of wizards and warriors, hell-breathing dragons and a nice cold beer or 50 to celebrate the smashing of the enemy’s skull under the double-edged blade. This is the kind of record that sneaks up on unsuspecting souls before unleashing a Viking hammer between the eyes. It’s not often that such a new band, with members so young, proves themselves with this much pummeling supremacy. Hype bands are a dime a fucking dozen and can crap out heartless debut records like nobody‘s business, but this band has just proven themselves as true warriors and kicked the shit out of the weak opposition. This is a sonic weapon of mature craftsmanship. All of that being said, Thorr-Axe have just released what is easily one of the best damn albums of the year!