DEAD MAN'S HAND
"The Combination"

(Agonia)

01. Capaci Bomb
02. Body in the Barrel
03. Hostile Respect
04. The Last Stand
05. Bloodstained Hands
06. Castigate
07. Guillotine
08. Taste the Metal
09. Knuckledusted
10. The Combination

RATING: 7/10

Ten tasty nuggets of modern European thrash are what you are served on "The Combination" from Norway's DEAD MAN'S HAND. At 32 minutes, the length is just right and each song offers at least some degree of worth. The engine runs hot too, just as one would expect from this style of breakneck thrash.

That style derives from the standbys of modern Scandinavian and Germanic thrash, THE HAUNTED and DEW-SCENTED, respectively, but probably has more in common with a band like DEAD SHAPE FIGURE. All that really means is that DEAD MAN'S HAND clearly has similar influences (yes, we know, everybody points to Bay Area thrash too…we get it); they just stick more to the basics of what made the first three albums by THE HAUNTED so incendiary; and I don't care what Dolving says, "One Kill Wonder" was bad to the bone too. Relax; no one is putting "The Combination" in the same category as those albums. Be that as it may, "The Combination" is quality thrash metal.

What is delivered to your door are the smoke-damaged/strep throat (take your pick) rasp vocals of Dag Schaug Carlsen — coupled at times with true blue death growls — that follow standard, but well written, patterns; guitarists Jon Schaug Carlsen and Martin Kandola keeping the white-hot riffs coming; and the rhythm section of drummer Jostein Kohn and bassist Stig Saetevik locking down and tightening up. The songwriting isn't too shabby either. A number like "Body in the Barrel" offers a catchy chorus and an effective changeup into a slower, groovy section. "Bloodstained Hands" ends up standing out with repeat plays, thanks to a memorable refrain of "Look at these hands; they're stained with blood. Oh mother, please don't let your sons turn out like me." The band even pulls out the occasional surprise, such as a break during "The Last Stand" that momentarily makes one think that DEAD MAN'S HAND is about to bust into the main riff from BLACK SABBATH's "Heaven and Hell" (not quite though).

So yes, "The Combination" will do the trick if you've got a hankerin' for no-nonsense thrash metal that falls outside of the current wave of nostalgia-wave riders. "Thrash metal to the bitter end", indeed!

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