Joined: 30 Jan 2003
|Posted: Mon Dec 12, 2011 12:08 pm Post subject: HOBBS ANGEL OF DEATH - s/t
|HOBBS ANGEL OF DEATH - s/t
(Steamhammer Records, 1988)
Australia has never been known as a bed rock of thrash metal. With the exception of Mortal Sin and their Metallica-styled thrash (they were doing it way before Evile ever were, kids!) the one name that props up every time is Hobbs Angel of Death. The brainchild of one Peter Hobbs, the ex-Tyrus guitarist formed HAOD in January 1987 in Melbourne. With the help of two ex-Nothing Sacred members Hobbs recorded a couple of demos - Angel of Death and Virgin Metal From Down Under - before landing a deal with Germany's Steamhammer records. Hobbs branded HAOD 'Virgin Metal' because according to him, he saw it as an 'untainted and pure form of metal.' In truth it was nothing more than unadulterated Slayer-worship, but it was the delivery which made this album so special.
Steamhammer must have believed in the band to fly them (and presumably their equipment) from Australia to Germany, as their debut was recorded in Music Lab Studios, Berlin. No mean feat, considering the economics, yet producer Harris Johns captured the Virgin Metal sound perfectly. A typical Johns' production, somewhere between Sodom's Agent Orange and Helloween's Walls of Jericho, HAOD was warm, vibrant and surprisingly crystal clear. Johns had truly captured a moment in time and unknowingly produced a thrash metal classic.
Opener House of Death sets the tone for the thrash-tastic barrage to follow. Rumbling bass lines courtesy of Phil Gresik, thumping drums from Rodney Trotter look-alike Darren McMaster-Smith and the brilliant guitar work of Mark Woolley & Hobbs himself, this band was tight, fast and knew how to thrash with the best of 'em. Satan's Crusade stomps along, as do the majority of the tracks on offer:Lucifer's Domain (oh, the riff @ 0.44!!!), Crucifixion, The Journey ; this was top notch stuff from 1988. The sudden time change during the progressive Marie Antoinette is as exhilarating as you're likely to hear from 80's thrash, complete with an almost Power Ballad guitar solo and incredible drum solo before the guillotine comes crashing down.
Lyrically HOAD were all about the evil things in life - Satan and death. I wouldn't necessarily call them a satanic/black metal band; the lyrics are somewhat comical and not to be taken seriously - behold the lyrical fury of Satan's Crusade: Fill my mouth with Satan's sperm/the Virgin Mary cried/Abuse my body and fuck me hard/Let me burn in Hell/As I die, fuck my corpse/Orgasm in Hell I need/I pray to you O Lord, O Satan/I kneel at the your feet. High brow stuff, indeed. However, by 1988 it's fair to say that the majority of thrash metal bands were veering away from the horned one (it was considered old hat to be still singing Lucifer's praises though the Norwegians, fair play to 'em were all but ready to take up that particular chalice). One wonders if their song titles worked against HOAD's popularity in any way? Juvenile lyrics aside, it was the music that mattered, and with songs this good it really didn't matter what Hobbs was yelling about.
The album cover was a painting by German artist Sebastian Kruger that featured a leather jacket clad Hobbs, inverted cross and bullet belt decorated, hands raised, scowling at the viewer surrounded by flames. Metal as fuck, you�'ll agree, if a tad narcissist; after all, there wasn't that many thrash metal albums with the band's main man as the focus of the album cover. Again, Hobbs did it before countless Black Metal one man bands were posing menacingly on their own album sleeves, and you'd like to imagine that the original is hanging on Hobbs' living room wall somewhere.
Unfortunately I don't have any reviews (or interviews) at hand, but if I remember correctly the response was generally positive on the release of the album. Certainly Steamhammer spent a pretty penny on the album, taking out full-page ads in the metal mags of the day. Granted, they were not reinventing the wheel; this was Speed Metal, plain and simple, yet combined with Johns' stellar production and the sheer power of these songs HAOD was a force to be reckoned with.
Recently, Floridian Death Metal stalwarts Malevolent Creation covered Jack the Ripper on their Warkult album, inciting HAOD as a huge influence. This cover stands true as, when you break it down what is Malevolent Creation but a death metal version of Hobbs?
Sadly, the bottom line is that though the album was amazing HOAD never made it in the Big League. And this is a real shame. Thrash was becoming tired in mid-1988, especially with the emergence of early death metal and UK grindcore bands. I remember more and more of my fellow metal heads back then wearing Bolt Thrower and Napalm Death shirts than thrash bands; gone were the Nuclear Assault's and the Exodus long-sleeves. Consequently, as fads and trends changed unless you were a Metallica or Slayer you unfortunately (and through no fault of your own) didn't have the longevity to make it as a thrash metal band, and like so many of their peers in the late '80's HAOD faded into relative obscurity after one album or two.
Nevertheless, Australia can be proud that they produced an absolute thrash metal monster in this album. If you have yet to hear it I thoroughly recommend you do - try and hunt down the CD from Modern Invasion records, as it contains two bonus tracks, Bubonic Plague and Cold Steel. An epic album of sheer classy speed metal from start to finish.