HAIL OF BULLETS showed tremendous potential with their debut album …Of Frost and War, and teased us next with the Warsaw Rising EP. Most bands show some drop off with their sophomore album, but no drop off is found with On Divine Winds, only catchy tunes and heavy riffs. Moving from the European Offensive to the Far East Asian war zones, the new album gives another heavy dosage of war and atrocities.
Gearing for war, “The Eve of Battle” is an appropriate intro that leads into “Operation Z” – the track about the attack on Pearl Harbor, and the Swedish “buzzsaw” guitar sound trademarked by bands like ENTOMBED, GRAVE, and DISMEMBER is emulated perfectly. The production is thick and clear, with the bass and guitar crunch sludgy enough to give the songs an extra push to damage some ear drums. Van Drunen’s distinct vocals are less John Tardy-ish this time around, and spew forth plenty of energy. The well placed vocal patterns and riff centered hooks are a great tandem to the basic but tight drumming. “The Mukden Incident” has BOLT THROWER-style riffs, but HAIL OF BULLETS executes with more precision and tightness than the UK legends in playing these riffs. Much of the formula for the band is having mid paced songs and aggressive and consistent double bass, as demonstrated in “Full Scale War” and “Guadalcanal.”
Towards the latter tracks, the lyrics focus on the Japanese and the result of World War II. “Unsung Heroes” is a dedication to all the prisoners of war that both survived and died at the hands of the Japanese army. “Tokyo Napalm Holocaust” is slow, constant, and heavy, much like the bombing that rained from the skies decades ago. “Kamikaze” is a full on, head first attack, much like the warriors that fought to the death for their country; being the ultimate patriots, sacrificing their young lives to destroy the enemy. Towards the end of the war with no choice but to surrender, the Japanese, as the closing track implies, “To Bear the Unbearable,” and shamefully surrender, promptly closes out this chapter of the HAIL OF BULLETS saga.
On Divine Winds shows the younger metal generation that death metal doesn’t need blast beats to be amazing, as there are zero blast beats found on this album. Heavy riffs with DISMEMBER/GRAVE guitar tones, an amazing vocalist, and solid drumming packs just as heavy a punch as an all out blast beat SUFFOCATION clone. The lyrical content for the album is intelligent and based on historical facts, so hopefully the listener can do some actual research on the events that took place, and appreciate On Divine Winds fully, both lyrically, and musically. (Metal Blade Records)