Label: Hammerheart Records
Date: February 25th, 2022
And then there are these types of re-releases. Okay, the band is still old. Over thirty years old, but still very much alive. Plus, this album is not some long lost recording from a bygone era nobody has heard of, and for a good reason.
This is a re-release of the fourth full length album by these Dutch dinosaurs. “Haatland” was originally published in 2005. By the way, Hammerheart and its subsidiary Petrichor have already pressed the re-releases of the first three Dead Head records.
Adding to the charm of this release is a whole other CD, containing a bunch of outtakes and demo recordings. A full package for the enthusiasts, Dutch and otherwise.
Topping it off, this is an album worthy of wider recognition. Unlike many “pearls from the abyss” that should’ve been left alone in that same abyss.
“Haatland” came out as a contemporary to the “thrash revival wave”, but other than actually being thrash metal, it is nowhere near that whole circus. Well, it couldn’t have been anyway, considering the band itself came out of the original wave. Dead Head did use a bunch of tools that the originators of the genre, especially the Teutonic masters, introduced to the scene. However, they avoided a stereotypical parody of thrash metal by actually looking to make it their own.
Sure, the album is not absolutely original work of art, but within certain boundaries, set at the end of the 1980’s, they did a good job. The complexity of performance, while not being overly progressive, escapes the trendy rhythms and simplified copying for a better part of the album. These tracks are quite diverse and easily hold the tension throughout. At the same time, they are properly aggressive and deliver everything a thrash metal record must.
Basically, I’m talking about an evolved version of German thrash metal. Not too evolved, but a definite thought has been put into these songs. Perhaps one could note a death metal touch, here and there. Of course, Dead Head could not avoid what’s best defined within the Netherlands. Death thrashing monsters such as Thanatos, with a bit of God Dethroned warmongering.
Other than that small input, “Haatland” is an old school thrash metal record with a dynamic twist. An artifact worth digging up from its resting place.
The second CD is, as I mentioned above, filled with “aborted” versions of the songs off “Haatland” and others, released or not. These sound a bit rougher, compared to the finished product which is boiling with extreme sonic ferocity. Bits and pieces have been altered to form the final versions, but the point is still there. A group of songs that may not be “Pleasure to Kill”, “Ausgebombt” or “Mad Butcher”, but are still killer. Headbangers, one and all. Catchy, but without insulting your intelligence with condescending easy solutions.
Oh, and you would never think there’s a thrash metal album judging from the cover. It’s yet another proof these guys are not into mimicking anyone to absurdity. However, there’s one thing that really bothers me. That attempt at 666 with Roman numerals on the right hand side of the picture. The “C” in the year of band’s formation, on the left side is quite different from the “C” on the right. In fact, it looks like an “E”. Weird…