All those of a sensitive disposition do not read on as the debut album from French thrash/death metalers Dead Cowboy’s Sluts is most likely not going to lay well with you. A brutal and insatiable barrage of venomous intensity, The Hand Of Death is a colossus in energy and intent with imaginative creativity and barbaric sounds to back it up. The release unleashes its vehemence from the first heavy breath of its intro to the last sonic expulsion from the final track and in between those two points, the album simply and greedily consumes the senses.
The Hand Of Death does have a familiar and often recognisable presence though it is impossible to bring to mind anyone sounding like them. There are flavours which spear tracks and moments borne from classic bands of the nineties and since, but all are devoured and twisted into the invention of the band. This makes for an immediately testing companion but who you know you will get on with like old heart bonded friends.
Formed in 2010, the Paris quintet entered the studio last August to record the album and it was not long before they linked up with French label M&O MUSIC for its release. Its letting out of the cage comes September 10th and it is hard to imagine anything less than acclaim to e placed in its devastating sonic claws.
The album first lays its devious fingers upon the ear with the opening B.T.K., a cinematic nightmare which could intensify any Hostel, Martyrs, or sadistic Asian horror movie. With an atmosphere as equally intrusive and distressing as the cries of the contained woman within, the track is a brewing violence and poison which expels itself through the onslaught of the following Asylum Breakout. The song is a bruising abrasion which brands the senses upon touch and leaves one groaning in pleasure. Predatory riffs from Mathieu Leclerc and Pierre Plathey flail the ear whilst the rhythms of Guillaume Thiebault makes intimidation look like child play, Combined they drive the song further and deeper note by punishing note whilst the caustic scowls and yells of vocalist Benjamin Leclerc snarl and chew on the senses throughout. The bass of Morgan Djinadou also plays its devilish part, his predatory basslines cursing and glaring within a fleeting groove and the unrelenting dominate battering.
The equally outstanding I Will Hunt You Down takes up the towering mantel next, its energy again a distrustful abuse from a bestial heart. At times the track prowls with a death/doom hunger whilst other moments sees it erupt into a corruption of thrash riffage to buckle the knees of giants. As it progresses the song with twisting ingenuity and flaming, attaches itself with a waspish persistence and sound to mesmerise and agitate even more impressively. Dead Cowboy’s Sluts might come up with things which feel like old friends at times but no one else delivers this heightened malevolent wickedness as craftily or skilfully.
As tracks like the violently beautiful Lusk, arguably the best song on the album and the storming Criminal unfurl their tempests the deeper one is willingly sucked into the contagion of the album, the diversity in ideas, sounds, and vocals beneath the sprawling aural savagery, explosive and rapturous in an ungentle way.
From Purify By Fire there is a gradual shift in attack though no less intense. This song alone has a more classic air to its raging: a Pantera/Testament gait locked in cahoots with the thrash and melodic death driven sounds to make for an evolving and unpredictable pleasure.
Whilst This Hate burns and barracks the ear like a woman scorned and Skull Crusher blows every synapse it can find, the likes of the mesmeric instrumental Gates Of Perdition and the two parted The Hand Of Death, offer a more deliberate and expansive presence to overwhelm with, though not without plenty of full blooded confrontations along the way too, especially from the blistering second part of the title track.
Closing on the excellent Southern/sludge soaked Backdraft, the album is a stunning and unmissable highlight in a year of a great many highs. It reveals that Dead Cowboy’s Sluts treat metal as an inspiring and imaginatively designed weapon and use it to evoke the most intense and fulfilling pleasure, thankfully.
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