Chicago's HURTLOCKER hit the scene in a big way with 2006's Napalm debut, "Fear in a Handful of Dust", an unrelenting and frighteningly vicious slab of modern thrash. That balls-out style is continued on "Embrace the Fall", this time with better songwriting and a wider array of riffs and more arrangement variety.Whereas so many American bands have disguised a hardcore-based attack as thrash, HURTLOCKER thrashes like THE HAUNTED or DEW-SCENTED, even more angrily at times. The rage on "Embrace the Fall" is real, just as it is on "Fear in a Handful of Dust". Vocalist Grant Belcher screams and barks like a man possessed, his delivery on the new long player especially convincing. Belcher's performance on "Outside are the Dogs" is a significant departure from the straight ahead approach taken on other songs (and the last album), as he does a kind of spoken verse with only bass/drum accompaniment before launching into yet another bout of sonic pugilism. It is one of a handful of songs on which the band has broadened the songwriting, resulting in an album with more dimensions than "Fear in a Handful of Dust", although in no way an indication of a letup in the pedal-to-the-metal approach that is the group's forte. The choruses on tracks such as "Let Them Die" are even kind of catchy. But mostly, "Embrace the Fall" is another series of musical punches in the mouth with "Release of Sin" owing a debt to SLAYER, and "They" and "I Am Napalm" face-melting gems that inflict pain at every turn. In fact, you will not find a momentum killer anywhere on this disc. It is time for North American fans in particular to stand up and take notice of HURTLOCKER. These guys are the real deal. Hate-filled and violently thrashing, "Embrace the Fall" will not disappoint you.
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