The New York Black Metal act have been blowing minds and eardrums since forming in 2007, but Black Anvil's third full-length, aptly titled Hail Death is their most epic and fully realized album to date. It's one of those rare releases that not only stays true to the band's roots but manages to transcend them in a way that works all of their seemingly disparate influences into an amalgam of heavy music that's as original as it is earth-shaking.
"When we started this band seven years ago we didn't have any guidelines but we knew it had to be something different," explains bassist/vocalist Paul Delaney who—alongside drummer Raeph, guitarists Gary Bennett and, recent addition Sos—are Black Anvil. Details about the band's early days aren't easy to find but that's sort of the point. "We're from New York and that speaks for itself," Delaney explains, adding that he started singing out of necessity, a process that required years of effort. "This band is 100% about the music and that's what we want to focus on and it took a lot of work to get to this point."
What is known is that the band released their debut Time Insults The Mind in 2008 and followed that up with Triumvirate in 2010 and although they weren't planning on being a touring act, they literally couldn't refuse when black metal legends such as Marduk and Watain all offered to take the act out on tour. That said, Black Anvil have always forged their own path by chopping down the metaphorical trees with their mighty riffs. "Were not influenced by other bands," Delaney explains, "the only thing I'm influenced by is the fact that I want to be different from them." It's true, although the album contains many of the genres stylistic hallmarks, Hail Death truly defies categorization.
In order to capture the fury this time around the band recorded with J. Robbins of Jawbox, who although best known for recording punk and post-hardcore acts, perfectly understood Black Anvil's creative vision. "He's got a really good style of making records and I knew he would understand that we wanted to make this sound live and organic as opposed to tight and compressed," Delaney explains, citing Kiss' Destroyer and Metallica's Master Of Puppets as inspiration. "I wanted it to be a little more rock n' roll sounding because I felt the songs were a little bigger and structured," he elaborates. "It tells a story from beginning to end and the recording reflects that."
That said Hail Death wasn't an easy album to make and the band members' personal turmoil is reflected in every frenzied moment of the album. "I went through a lot of stuff over the past year and it caused me to move and spend a year of my life in solitude," Delaney says, explaining that for twelve months he would just sit in his room and pour all of his energy and inner turmoil into these songs. "This is our journey," Delaney explains. "I can honestly say that this is probably the most important thing I've ever done in my life, even if it never sees the light of day for some reason I'm insanely proud of it."
That sort of introspective energy is present all over Hail Death from the epic nine-minute long opener "Still Reborn" to the palm-muted perfection of "Next Level Black." "Any band should be proudest of their latest album and I think we made a huge jump forward with this one because we had more time and didn't feel rushed or limited in any way," says Delaney. A perfect example of this is the song "My Hate Is Pure" which starts with a gently picked intro before it explodes into double-bass driven ecstasy followed by a tempo-shifting climax that listeners won't expect. This dichotomy between brutality and melodicism lies at the core of Black Anvil's sound and is what's helped them develop such a rabid following worldwide.
As anyone who has seen Black Anvil live already knows, the band's live shows are a full-on barrage of the senses and Hail Death also captures that kinetic energy. "We really wanted to capture our live sound on this record which is one of the reasons we went with J. Robbins," Raeph explains. "We didn't want it to sound perfect, we wanted it to sound like us." Delaney concurs adding, "We bring it live and I feel confident saying that." From the guitar tones to the visuals to the band members' stage presence, Black Anvil don't mess around when it comes to what happens onstage.
"We are black metal but we also aren't interested in doing what hundreds of bands have done before. We're interested in doing our own thing and this album is the most self-realized expression of that to date," Delaney summarizes. Ultimately Hail Death is an album that speaks for itself in the sense that it's both a mission statement and a battle cry. If the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse ever descend on the planet, this is the perfect soundtrack to the bloody aftermath.