Frank Hetzel (guitar, songwriter)

Jeff Loomis (lead guitar)

Kragen Lum (lead guitar)

Tim Aymar (vocals)

Steve Tucker (vocals)

J.D. DeServio (bass)

Jason Viebrooks (bass)

Dagna Silesia (bass)

Bryan Newberry (drums)

After releasing their third EP, the highly acclaimed Raining Plague, in 2015, Seattle metal band Beltfed Weapon had a tough time cementing a lineup of dedicated band members. So, frontman Frank Hetzel took matters into his own hands. Instead of wasting time auditioning new musicians, Hetzel wrote a batch of songs on his own and then brought in some of the top musicians in the thrash, death, and technical metal scenes to work with him on the new Beltfed Weapon EP Darkened Demise.

Hetzel was inspired to recruit an all-star lineup after years of disappointment. Time and again, players he originally thought would mesh with Beltfed Machine didn’t get along with other members, weren’t dependable, and/or developed substance problems that impaired their productivity and reliability. The process became like an endless trip to the laundromat: wash, rinse, drain, repeat.

“From the beginning, I’ve always had to regroup ‘cause it’s been roadblock after roadblock,” Hetzel says. “But I’ve never given up. I’ve always wanted to grow and enhance Beltfed Weapon and each time I’ve come back better.”

Darkened Demise showcases Beltfed Weapon at their best. Driven to succeed at all costs, Hetzel put the pedal to the metal and wrote five skull-crushing songs full of aggressive riffs, innovative arrangements, and multidimensional vocal approaches. A two-decade veteran in the business, Hetzel has met and befriended some of the top players on the meal scene. So, he played the new songs for musicians from bands as diverse as Morbid Angel, Into Eternity, Arch Enemy, Exhorder, Black Label Society, Testament, and Heathen. Then, he invited them to perform with him on the EP, and everyone was thrilled to help.

Working with talented guest musicians wasn’t a completely novel concept for Hetzel. When he was wrapping up Raining Plague, he encountered personal and professional differences with former members and brought in Testament member Steve D Giorgio on bass, former Marduk drummer Fredrik Widigs, and Arch Enemy guitarist Jeff Loomis (ex-Nevermore) to play a guitar solo.

Loomis enhanced the spirit of the music so much that Hetzel invited him back for more. This time, the guitarist came in ready to rip. The same was true for all the artists that contributed to the five songs on Darkened Demise. “Everyone was so professional and talented,” Hetzel says. “They definitely helped me create the best thing I’ve ever done.”

Hetzel started working on the follow-up to Raining Plague in late 2019 and recorded his guitar parts for the album in the fall of 2020. He originally hoped to have some of the guest musicians in the studio with him to record their parts. However, the coronavirus pandemic forced everyone to work remotely from their home studios. Once they were finished, Juan Urtega from Trident Studios expertly mixed and mastered the songs to make the final collaborations sound seamless.

The first Beltfed Weapon song in four years, “Headfirst Into Hell,” is a multidimensional assault that features clean vocals by Tim Aymar of Control Denied (the last band to include Death founder Chuck Schuldiner). The song is both rousing and roiling, rife with thrash riffs, double-bass drumming, and prog/power metal rhythms. Hetzel started working on the song with his friend, bassist Dagna Silesia for a different project. But when he heard how well it was turning out, he decided to turn it into a Beltfed Weapon song.

While many of Beltfed Weapon’s songs are about war, “Headfirst Into Hell” confronts a different kind of battle. “It’s about drug addiction,” Hetzel says. “I had a really close family member who went down that road. It’s a painful process for the addict, but also for the family. It’s so hard to see someone going through that and not be able to do anything.”

Hetzel first dabbled with semi-melodic vocals on Raining Plague. So, when Aymar agreed to sing for Beltfed Weapon, a new range of possibilities opened up that combined melodic hooks, aggressive howls and raw dissonance. Surprisingly, when Aymar first ran the vocals by Hetzel, they weren’t actually sung.

“It was funny because he didn’t even sing on scratch tracks,” Hetzel says. “The first thing he did was send me the vocal melodies played on keyboard. And after I told him they were great, he recorded his parts. He said he learned to do that from [Death and Control Denied frontman] Chuck Schuldiner.”

To give “Headfirst Into Hell” extra punch, Hetzel asked Heathen’s Kragen Lum (ex-Exodus) and Loomis to play one solo each for the song. Loomis also added a one-minute long lead to the Aymar-fronted “Accept Your Insanity,” the most epic, multidimensional song Hetzel has ever written, one best described as Judas Priest crossed with Morbid Angel, with a touch of latter-day Carcass.

Hetzel wrote the title track as an apocalyptic thrash-death number that features Morbid Angel’s growling vocalist Steve Tucker (who also handles vocals on the savage “Killing Machine”; Aymar sang the other three tunes). “I’ve always liked Morbid Angel and Steve’s voice,” Hetzel says. “He really lets loose and doesn’t hold anything back. It worked well for me because I enjoy some power metal as well as death metal, thrash, and speed metal. And I’m trying to put everything I love into my music and my songs.”

Joining Hetzel, Aymar and Loomis and on the piledriving “Accept Your Insanity” are Black Label Society bassist J.D. DeServio, and Into Eternity drummer Bryan Newberry, who wasn’t the original drummer, but who stepped in at the last minute and re-recorded all the drum tracks on the EP.

“I originally hired a drummer out of Sweden, and the guy basically threw the drum parts down and slapped everything together,” explains Hetzel. “I figured I could work with what he did because his timing was good. But as we started getting closer to doing the bass, my old friend Jason Viebrooks (Exhorder, Grip, Inc.) – who’s also on the EP — said, ‘Dude, the drums don’t make sense.’ And then I started listening back to it and realized Jason was right. This guy’s structure didn’t work for the songs.”

Determined not to let the setback delay the project, Hetzel searched for a last-minute replacement and found Newberry. Not only was he professional, performing fleet, fluid passages that perfectly fit the music, he was also prolific. “Bryan was a lifesaver,” Hetzel says. “He tracked the four demoed songs at his place with his engineer Justin Bender in no time. I was so inspired I put together another song, ‘Accept Your Insanity,’ which I pretty music pulled out of my ass out of nowhere. I thought, ‘This is too good not to include on the EP, so I added it and recorded it with Aaron Smith.”

Hetzel started working on the follow-up to Raining Plague in late 2019 and recorded his guitar parts for the album in the fall of 2020. He originally hoped to have some of the guest musicians in the studio with him to record their parts. However, the coronavirus pandemic forced everyone to work remotely from their home studios. Once they were finished, Juan Urtega from Trident Studios expertly mixed and mastered the songs to make the final collaborations sound seamless.

Combining traditional metal, thrash, death metal, and technical metal into a single batch of songs is no simple feat, yet Hetzel doesn’t plan out the sudden twists and unexpected changes in advance. He relies on intuition.

“I’ll start with two riffs and blend them together. And then I’ll do a scratch track with some drum sounds,“ he says. “So, I actually do stick with a formula of building each song from an intro to a verse, and then chorus/verse/chorus/verse/solo/verse/chorus/end. It’s very straightforward in the beginning. Then, I sit back and let my ears tell me what to do. That’s the part where I insert my odd time signature riffs and crazy tempos. I play entirely from feel, so it’s a weird process but in the end the songs pretty much write themselves. No one’s ever come to me and said, ‘Oh, that arrangement doesn’t make sense. Can we switch it?’”

Hetzel also came up with the title for the track Darkened Demise off the top of his head and decided that the name sounded as “metal” as the song. It was only after he Googled the title that he learned that a “darkened demise” is the death of a corrupt, powerful leader, a definition that fit the vibe of the EP and the tone of the times. Plus, it feeds right into his interest in history, especially the history of war.

“I’m infatuated with World War II,” he says. “I’ve watched a lot of documentaries about it, and I’ve found that learning about the past is a great way to understand the present. With everything that’s going on in Ukraine with Russia and Putin, it’s like there’s another Hitler on the rise. It’s just fucked up, man, and it’s crazy. So, when I saw what ‘darkened demise’ meant, I was like, ‘Yeah, that’s perfect.’”

Darkened Demise is loaded with abrupt tempo shifts, staggered rhythms, extended middle-eights, and other musical hairpin turns that keep the music exciting and unpredictable. Moreover, the EP is a labor of love – a project Hetzel pursued by himself with a bunch of friends and guests he invited along for the ride.

“It has been a long process, but it has been very therapeutic and rewarding,” he concludes. “I get a real sense of accomplishment when I see how positively people react to it. And to have all these people involved that I’ve been listening to for decades, and to know that they like my songs enough to want to be involved, that’s just incredible. If we sell records, great, but I feel great just knowing how it all came together and how well it came out.”

Band Quotes

When the world went nuts in 2019, I moved to the country and started farming to focus on sustainability.

My guitar player Tim Roth from Into Eternity messaged me and said “Hey Newbs, my good buddy Frank Hetzel is looking for a drummer for his Death/Thrash band and I thought you would be a good fit.” I said “Ok sick I’ll check it out!”

I met with Frank online and we clicked instantly, super easy going guy with a plethora of INSANE riffs! As soon as I heard the music I was hooked.


Shortly after that I had my Engineer JB at Divergent Sounds Studios come to my farm and record me in my basement.

3 hours later, we finished tracking drums for the brand new BELTFED WEAPON album!

I am super stoked on these tracks and so thankful to be on a record with Frank, Jeff Loomis and JD DeServio to name a few! Get ready to have your ears blown away! WATCH IT GO!



After knowing Frank for many years, we finally sat down and wrote a song together and I’m stoked that it’s making it onto the new Beltfed Weapon EP. “Head first into hell” was lots of fun and pretty easy to put together. I admire Frank’s ability to assemble all the people, music and visual concept to drive his idea forward. The result is powerful and bone crushing metal and I’m honored to be a part of it.

Dagna Silesia


My buddy Andy Beech put Frank in touch with me! The tune is ripping! It’s my first thrash bass track I ever recorded and I dig it!! 🤘🏼

JD Deservio

Frank Hetzel has put together an incredible lineup of musicians for the latest Beltfed Weapon EP Darkened Demise. When I heard the killer music and saw the list of talent involved in the project it was a no brainer for me to participate. Who wouldn’t want to do trade-off solos with Jeff Loomis on a couple of songs, right?! Metal fans should definitely check this out when it’s available!

Kragen Lum

“Being involved with Beltfed Weapon has been a killer time with killer friends. The songs are heavy and still maintain a hook as well. I’m super proud of what we’ve done and I for one am looking forward to bringing the stuff to the live stage in the future”

Jason Viebrooks

Years ago I was searching on YouTube for projects Ronny Munroe former metal church vocalist was involved with then, and I found Beltfed Weapon’s P.O.W. and I was impressed. So I checked out more of their stuff. Somewhere along the line Guitarist Frank Hetzel friended me on Facebook and he contacted me about writing lyrics and singing on some of his stuff. I just loved the riffs he came up with. so it didn’t take long to get him my tracks. He didn’t mention it at first, but I secretly hoped it was for Beltfed Weapon, and my wish came true. I hope to do much more with Frank and the gang in the future.

Tim Aymar

I first met Frank Hetzel in the early 2000’s through some mutual friends. I learned he was a Nevermore fan and also a guitarist, so we hit it off right away. I consider Frank to be one of my closest friends and someone I can always trust and count on. He’s a great dude and I’m very happy to have played some solos on his new EP. The longer solo in accept your insanity was something I obviously spent a lot of time on as it needed some kind of storyline to it. I quickly found myself working away at it on a cold rainy day in Seattle, which is always the most perfect vibe and time to write anything dark in our ever changing weather conditions. I think the final takes turned out killer and adds a cool flow to the song.

Frank has come a long way with his writing and I’m super proud of him with all his efforts and great work ethic. For fans of Thrash and just good metal in general, I highly recommend giving this a spin. In the words of the late Chuck Schuldiner, “Keep the metal flowing” Frank, and I’m proud to call you a friend.


Jeff Loomis

My good friend jason viebrooks mentioned to me about this project he has been involved with beltfed weapon and asked me if I would be interested in doing vocals on a couple songs after hearing the material and talking to frank i though it sounded really good and I liked the idea of doing some vocals on this thrash’s project once the songs came together not only do they sound good it was a lot of fun doing something a bit different

Steve Tucker

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