I’m of the mind that metal doesn’t need to be unique or innovative to be good (though that obviously helps), and that’s good for a band like Detherous here. They don’t have one single original idea on any of the eight tracks on display here, instead sounding 100% like a perfect blend between Pleasure to Kill era Kreator and Tortured Existence era Demolition Hammer, with a random Overkill ripoff in “From Hell They Rise” (seriously give it a listen to 0:53, it’s basically the main riff from “Coma” note for note) – plus an album cover that’s just a gorier version of Cancer’s debut. Everything about them is unoriginal and easily traceable to a classic band.
But none of that matters because they’re fucking good. Hacked to Death is a blistering thrash fest where everything is played at the maximum speed with absolutely zero concept of restraint. But every track is a barnburner, and I don’t care that this style peaked thirty years ago. Because of this, there isn’t much to say about Detherous, but I promise you it owns.
Standout tracks are hard to find since everything finds itself on such a high plateau, but the few slower and groovier moments that appear on pretty much every song in the back half (best being the title track) hit like a truck. The vocal performance is especially venomous, channeling Mille Petrozza at his peak and giving the music even more of a caustic bite than it would have with a more “normal” guy behind the mic. It certainly helps that the music itself sounds phenomenal, the production is gargantuan, with riffs that sound like crumbling castles being hit with cannonballs made of dynamite. As a result, this retains an 80s spirit while sounding very modern without being surgically precise or clean. It’s the same kind of thing that Arthur Rizk is so good at doing – updating a classic sound without neutering it. After typing that, I decided to check who produced this album and it turned out to be none other than Devin Schum, who is an unknown right now but in a just world he won’t be for long, because he also fronts (and produced the debut album for) Concrete Funeral – another radical thrash band that supplements generic writing with heaps of vitriol to help themselves stand out in an artistically dead scene. Detherous is definitely the better of the two groups simply because Hacked to Death is more focused and concise than Ultimum Judicium, but they’re two peas in a pod regardless.
Clocking in at a lean 33 minutes, Hacked to Death is a great example of how unoriginal metal doesn’t have to be boring and lame by default. This is very spirited and drenched in gore, sounding straight out of the era where bands were constantly one-upping themselves. If this was released in 1989 instead of 2019, it’d be considered a forgotten gem. Alas, this does have to fight against the knowledge that all of the barriers they’re pushing have since been shattered with the advent of death metal, but in a vacuum this absolutely smokes. The first four tracks tend to be faster and more insane (opener “Smouldering Ashes” is a fuckin’ cooker) and the following four tracks tend to have a few more Sodom-esque mid-paced most breaks, so they’re a bit more memorable. Either way Hacked to Death is, at worst, very good.
Hacked to Death was released on August 16th of this year via Redefining Darkness Records, and can be purchased through them or through the band’s Bandcamp page here.