Hail of Bullets - Warsaw Rising (Metal Blade/Riot)

This war metal supergroup attacks with a blitzkrieg on their new EP: short and violent! But reviewer Joker Lokison wonders if music industry war crimes are being committed against the metal buying public.


Two of my favorite things ever? War and Metal! Of course, when you combine the two its freakin' magic! I'm a complete war metal fanatic, so I was happier than a panzer commander levelling a neighbourhood with never-ending main gun rounds when the Dutch/English supergroup Hail of Bullets dropped their debut, ...Of Frost and War, last year. Featuring the tortured howls of Martin Van Drunen, the legendary Asphyx vocalist, and the militaristic beats of Ed Warby, drummer of war metal pioneers Bolt Thrower, ...Of Frost and War became an instant classic! Many of us the world over hungered for more metal combat and along came Warsaw Rising, the latest EP from the Hail of Bullets war machine!


Unfortunately, Warsaw Rising is little more than appetiser and not a full meal. This shortie is comprised of two new tracks (which I'm sure are leftovers from the ...Of Frost and War sessions), a brutalised cover of the Twisted Sister classic Destroyer, and three outstanding live tracks. What wouldn't I have done for six brand new tracks?!


The two new tracks, the titular Warsaw Rising and Liberators, follow the same formula of work from …Of Frost and War. While the sound and feel has been called ‘derivative’, this is death metal done the right fucking way and thematically capitalising on the horrors of World War II. Honestly, there is good and bad death metal and this is good, like pre-1995 good! The cover of Destroyer is performed at a pummelling pace reminiscent of a battalion of King Tiger tanks laying waste to Arnhem during the German counter offensive to Operation: Market Garden. Red Wolves of Stalin, Nachthexen, and The Crucial Offensive are the live numbers, which are recorded impeccably in front of a live German audience at 2008's Party.San Open Air. At least I think so, as the download I purchased didn’t come with production credits.


And here comes my gripe!


In North America, Warsaw Rising was only offered as a download. At around US$6, it is an amazing bargain for those that don’t give two shits about holding an actual product. Admiring the art, reading the lyrics, perusing the production credits and thanks list… to me this is all part of the ‘metal experience’. I can’t even begin to put a number on the amount of great bands I discovered just reading thanks lists! Without the packaging, even with just an EP, it feels like you’re getting ripped off. In fact, it gave me the feeling that I was pirating the music, even though I broke out the credit card to pay for it.


This was the first new release I purchased this way, and in the future I will refrain from doing so unless it is the only way to obtain the music. I guess I did have the option of purchasing the import MCD Digipak… for 10 freakin’ Euros plus shipping and handling! With today’s exchange rate and shipping from Germany to the USA, six songs would’ve ran me around US$20! That’s over US$3 per track! I nearly bent over and took it, but clenched the cheeks and came to my senses in the nick of time!


Why so expensive, Metal Blade? From my time in the music business, I know damn well what a CD costs to produce, even with a fancy digipak. As I recall, the pressing plant in Austria we used would even ship our stock to any stores and distros we wanted free of charge! Metal Blade must realise that metal consumers are much different from the folks who buy rap and pop. This is why we still buy vinyl! The large format art is just as important as the warm analog sound that radiates from those shiny 7" and 12" inch platters!


Metallers want the art, the photos, the thanks lists… but I guess Metal Blade believes we should pay a premium price for them. Warsaw Rising is worth every last cent of six bucks for the high quality war metal alone, but I can’t help but feel like an important part of the ‘metal experience’ is missing.



Hail of Bullets' Warsaw Rising is out now on Metal Blade/Riot.