HAND OF FIRE - Nuclear Sunrise
What could draw a reluctant music reviewer out of his self imposed hibernation, I mean really- there are lots of other things I could be doing. Sleeping, snorkeling, gargling, perhaps even reading some classic science fiction, (Ray Bradbury anyone???)
Perhaps if I was coaxed out with the promise of something smashing. Something spectacular, even grandiose; is there such a thing that could even deliver on that promise? After all, I have heard this all before, the assurances, the vows, dare I say it… THE HYPE!!
The Rottweiler Records debut from San Francisco Bay Area natives Hand of Fire is the object at hand. It must be said that I’ve been curious about this band since I first heard of them several months back, after all I also live in Nor Cal albeit 100+ miles away from where they are located but the thoughts kept coalescing in my mind, ‘Seriously a thrash band from Nor Cal with Christian underpinnings???” Too good to be true?
Opening up with the titanic riffage of “Bleeding Out,” Hand of Fire waste no time in making sure that their musical statement is loud and muscular. Thrash metal with bits of influence from Death Angel to Testament, not afraid of melody or the often missing hook in much of today’s metal offerings. This is Bay Area thrash metal at its core and not to be trifled with.
Of the several album highlights “Burn it Down” is just a monster of a track. A brutal opening that dives into a chorus that just smashes any barriers of reluctance, if you’re not sold at this point you’re dead. “Let The Killings Begin” with its ode to the end times was the band's first lyric video, haunting and mesmerizing. With its swirling vocal and driving riff it paves the way for the title track. “Nuclear Sunrise” starts slowly but builds to a sonic crescendo that just hammers home.
“The Prophecy” demands your attention, an album highlight with a pace that grabs you and sinks deep into your brain. The right hand of drummer Bill Davies is a machine here, timing is strong but full of subtlety you might miss. The final three tracks hit the gas pedal and never let up, “Reap What You So”, “Some Will Say” and “Walk” (no it’s not a Pantera cover) finish this album out quite nicely. Headbanging all the way without a moments respite, but don’t misunderstand there is plenty of melody here.
Vocalist Jim Settle delivers a solid performance with plenty of strength that cuts through music carnage. It should be noted lyrically he tackles the end times, hypocrisy, salvation, spiritual warfare, just to name a few. He definitely has something to say if you take the time to listen.
Guitarist Tiago Souza delivers some tasty licks and plays his six string axe with such ferocity I had to make sure that they only had one guitar player. Tom Eaton rounds out this quartet on bass guitar and he dispatches the bottom end of the musical horizon in stainless metal fashion, precise and powerful.
It would be a crime not to mention producer Juan Urteaga (producer of Testament, Machine Head, Exodus, Night Ranger, Ted Nugent, Heathen, Vile, Cattle Decapitation) who has provided an ethereal template that the Fire boys get to play through. The tonalities are clean and defined, world class.
Make no mistake Nuclear Sunrise is a must have for fans of thrash metal in general. Great songs that are memorable with solid performances that dig in the ear deep. Hand of Fire are a force to be dealt with and add to the legion of classic thrash bands from the San Francisco Bay Area. Miss this at your peril.