Speed metal band formed in 1986 in Sarpsborg, Norway.

From Blackest Darkness WitchHammer - The Lost Tapes (Dazed) 2000

1. "Human Rights" (5:36)
2. "Confrontation" (4:50)
3. "No Name" (4:35)
4. "Deliver Us From Evil" (3:19)
5. "Beware the Child" (5:11)
6. "The Ultimate Constellation" (3:38)
7. "Be All End All" (3:00)
8. "On My Own" (3:04)
9. "Touch of an Angel" (3:33)

Norwegian metal that falls somewhere between power metal and thrash not unlike Reverend, early Flotsam & Jetsam or even fellow Norwegian metalheads, Artch. Vocalist Per Stale has a smooth and masculine, mid to high range voice that fits well the style of the band. A good portion of the music is of the faster speed metal variety, but the band slows it down here and there as well, allowing for a bit of diversity between songs. Don't really know much about these guys. There are no lyrics or information given. Given the sound and style, it almost sounds like this cd could have been recorded in 1990, but the copyright on the back is 2000. As for the album title, this makes me suspicious that this material may have been resurrected from a past year as well. I made a consorted effort to try and understand what the lyrics were all about, but to my dismay, I couldn't make out enough of the lyrics to make heads or tails of them, other than they deal with some kind of mysticism and perhaps some Catholicism.. This disc came as a bonus in a trade I made with a Norwegian trader with two Artch cds.

The internet is such a killer tool. Do a little searching and you'll be surprised what you can find. I found the band's official web page and discovered that I was completely correct in my guess of when this was recorded. According to their web page this disc was recorded at Studio 1 in Sarpsborg, Norway in 1990. Man, was that a good guess or what. I found out that this band has another album out called '1487' that was recorded in 1987 but has yet to see release in CD format. Also got some insight into the lyrics. Apparently the band drew inspiration for their lyrical concepts from the MALLEUS MALEFICARUM, from which the name of the band is also derived. The book, "MALLEUS MALEFICARUM-The Hammer of the Witches," was written in Germany in 1486 by the Dominican inquisitors Kramer and Sprenger. The book apparently gives detailed information on how to recognize, judge and execute the witches and heretics of medieval Europe. MALLEUS MALEFICARUM was approved by the Catholic Church in the year of 1487.

1487 Witchhammer - 1487 (Dazed) 1990/2005

1. "Intro" (:53)
2. "Transylvania" (4:31)
3. "Kill All in Sight" (3:22)
4. "Burning Court" (5:08)
5. "The Whore of Babylon" (4:30)
6. "Enola Gay" (5:04)
7. "Hallow's Eve" (4:26)
8. "My Execution" (5:03)
9. "By This Axe I Rule" (3:58)
10. "Curiosity About Death" (4:12)

Witchhammer guitar pick

WitchHammer pick
Witchhammer guitar picks

"1487" is yet another Witchhammer re-release, and a welcome one at that. The original record was released independently by the band in 1990. Much like the "Lost Tapes" the music here falls somewhere between classic heavy metal, speed metal and thrash. The band rides that border not unlike early Metal Church or the first Helloween and Flotsam & Jestam albums. However, don't expect them to sound like any of these bands. They have a unique sound that is all their own, led by the strong vocals of Par Ståle Pettersen. He has an incredible voice for this type of metal. He's sings in a high, clean style but has enough grit and gravel in his voice to keep him from sounding like a typical power metal clone. The album begins with an intro that sounds like something you might expect from early Helloween before bursting into "Transylvania", an excellent speed metal song that sets the pace for the entire CD. From this point on, the entire album is solid with each song complimenting the next. There are the usual peaks and valleys that add to the overall enjoyement, such as the melodic introduction to "The Whore of Babylon" or the blinding speed of "Enola Gay". Upon receiving this in the mail a few weeks ago, I cannot even count the times I have played it. I find it hard to believe that this CD was an independent release. It is an absolutely essential album that really does rival albums like "Metal Church" and "Walls of Jerico" for the speed metal crown. Can't wait for new music from these guys. Let's just hope they continue in a similar style as "1487" and "The Lost Tapes".

Chapter 3 Witchhammer - Chapter 3: In Serenity and Awe (Release Party Edition # 144/300)  (Independent) 2011

1.   Intro #16 Execution (1:46)
2.   Skull (3:26)
3.   Fields Of Shame (6:04)
4.   In Serenity And Awe (5:58)
5.   Headman (4:40)
6.   Hate (4:34)
7.   My Sacrifice (4:56)
8.   Redeemer Of Souls (4:15)
9.   Blood (Wisdom Of The Crone) (4:42)
10. Final Parade (4:57)
11. The Whore Of Babylon  [live] (3:52)

I've been waiting on a new release from Norway's Witchhammer ever since I first learned about this band nearly a decade ago upon receiving "The Lost Tapes" CD from a friend in Norway. Witchhammer originally reunited in 1999 and though they released their second album in 2001, that album was originally recorded in 1991. Rumors flew around the internet for years about a new album with nothing surfacing until 2011. Apparently a lot had happened in the Witchhammer camp in that time since their reunion, with original vocalist Per Ståle suffering health issues that made it impossible for him to return to singing for the band.

In 2010 the band brought in vocalist Thomas Arntzen Dahl, who was to be a temporary replacement for live show, but is now the permanent vocalist for Witchhammer. Dahl's vocals are nothing like Ståle's. This threw me for a bit of a loop when I first listened to this CD. It's always difficult replacing a singer in a band, especially a charismatic singer that gives the band character. However, by the second spin, I was already beginning to enjoy this new release more and forgetting the differences in the vocals. Dahl reminds me a lot of Blaze Bayley (ex-Wolfsbane/Iron Maiden) with maybe a touch of Messiah Marcolin (ex-Candlemass).

Musically, the band doesn't stray far from the sound they developed on those first two albums. However, with "Chapter 3: In Serenity and Awe" Witchhammer seem to be moving closer to traditional heavy metal with less thrash metal influences, though there are still some present, such as in "Headman". I'd basically describe the album as power metal, but this usually brings thoughts of keyboards and dungeons and dragon concepts. That is certainly not the case whatsoever. This is real, guitar-driven, power metal!

"Chapter 3: In Serenity and Awe" is a concept based on the true story about Gunhild Taraldsdatter, who was decapitated for giving birth to an illegitimate child in the mid 16th century. Truly a bizarre story, that is thoroughly infused into the music.  As such, the music seems a bit more dramatic and almost progressive, not unlike some of the concept albums from Grave Digger. A song like "Hate" or the dynamic "In Serenity and Awe" certainly have a lot in common with the German metal mongers.

"Whore of Babylon" is a bonus track, recorded live at Bedemarten, August 19, 2010. I assume this track will only be available on this special release party edition of the CD. The booklet is also autographed by the entire band.

I can't really say if "Chapter 3: In Serenity and Awe" tops the band's first two albums, but it's certainly a solid heavy metal release nonetheless. I'm sure it will see plenty of spin time in my CD player. (Thanks for the hook-up Kmorg)

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