Go to your local library and take out the book labeled: ‘How to be more underground in the death/thrash world’. Can’t find it? That’s right, it’s so underground that only two copies were ever made and they’re both owned by the author. Those of us who have seen this hallowed book will find that under ‘B’ there is an entry for Beltfed Weapon, the project of local Seattle legend Franko Hetzel and this year has the death/thrash band returning with their latest EP ‘Darkened Demise’.

What the listener gets here with this EP is some good, strong death/thrash delivered in just the way we like. There is a huge old-school feel here and as with every Beltfed Weapon release, Hetzel brings with him a plethora of guests to the table such as Jeff Loomis, Kragen Lum, and Jason Viebrooks. Yet, the most prominent of these is the late, great Tim Aymar who, no matter what he did, always managed to bring a touch of class to the table and it is no surprise that because of this, any fan of Control Denied or Pharoah will be frothing at the mouth. Therefore, through tracks such as ‘Accept Your Insanity’ and ‘Eternal Fire’, Beltfed Weapon dance the toxic waltz that will turn the head of fans of Havok, Exodus, and particularly Annihilator where at times, you’d convince yourself that Aymar was Jeff Waters in disguise.

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Beltfed Weapon has often felt like a fun but sort of long-running vanity (but nonetheless valid) project for Seattle’s talented Frank Hetzel, many years between quite short releases featuring a who’s who of underground metal players guesting in support of a slightly odd discography. It is strange to me that there aren’t a series of full-lengths after so much time spent between releases, but every shorter thing Frank has released still has moments to enjoy for the casual thrash, death, and (at times) power metal fan.

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A nice acoustic intro opens the third EP by this American death-/thrash metal band. I´m really astonished! Death-/thrash? With high-pitched US metal-like vocals? Yes, the growls follow later on! But this is amazing! Sometimes it sounds like Steel Prophet or old Fates Warning with blastbeats and doublebass like a machine gun! This is fast and brutal as well as melodic and harmonic! I´ve often heard all influences for this, but never put together like it is featured here! It sounds like Nevermore and Into Eternity, sometimes like Testament, sometimes like Master. You can´t imagine? Check it! The only weak part here are the triggered drums with their artificial sound, but they are fast as a machine gun! Incredible!

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Beltfed Weapon – Raining Plague EP

Seattle, Washington’s thrash, heavy metal mongers Beltfed Weapon is sure to give their unsuspecting listeners a brutal thrashing with their melodically precise guitars and a range of clean and rough vocal patterns.

“Raining Plague” is the type of EP, which can surely inflict unbearable physical and mental torture.

Take the best elements from fellow Seattle thrashers Sanctuary and Metal Church, and you’ve a solid headbanging lesson in old school melodic thrash and heavy metal with raw power.

“Darkness Falls” comes at the listener with thrashing guitars, body hurling double bass assaults, and a killer trade-off between clean and gruff vocals, more reminiscent of death metal growls at times.

“Black Matter Clarity” is a total all out thrash metal assault, very much in the vein of Forbidden’s “Forbidden” Evil album. The heavy as fuck rhythm guitars, soundwave shattering bass licks and a hard hitting drum display brings to mind the good old days of mid to late eighties thrash and death metal from the San Francisco Bay Area and Tampa, Florida.

Overall, “Raining Plague” will not shatter any records nor move any mountains, but the passion this EP was written with is powerful enough to get you thinking of your own life and the direction it’s headed in. I will give Beltfed Weapon credit with stellar songwriting and a superb musicianship that’s sure to impress even the most musically demanding ears. (Self Financed)    Sarjoo Devani – Explicitly Intense

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Let me just start by saying we here at FireWalk Metal are somewhat biased towards this band because of our long time friendship with founding member Frank Hetzel. But, at the same time as a friend it is our duty to tell the truth, even if it hurts.. HOWEVER, in this case the truth is simple. This EP is incredible.

Most people have issues with bands changing their sound.. Being a long time fan of Beltfed Weapon, I can easily say this evolution is just what they needed. Hands down the best piece of music they have ever put out. It easily appeals to a wider audience as it’s much more progressive than the Beltfed Weapon of old’s death/thrash sound.

This EP gives you everything a well rounded metal fan could ever want. Punchy, yet groovy guitar styings by Andy Beech on lead and Frank Hetzel on rhythm, with guest solos by some of metals most impressive shredders (Jefff Loomis- Arch Enemy, Nevermore and Matt Wicklund (Ghost Ship Ocatvius, God Forbid, Warrel Dane, Himsa). You can definitely hear the improvement in Frank Hetzels sound, more technical and precise when compared to previous Beltfed releases.

This album also features quite impressive clean vocals as well as death vocals by Dean Sternberg (Where Evil Follows, Ashes Of Ares, ex-Into Eternity touring singer) I have always thoroughly enjoyed the combination of clean and death vocals, it definitely makes them stand apart from your typical thrash/death metal acts.

Also featuring the bass guitar wizardry of one of metal’s elite. Steve DiGiorgio (Testament, Sadus, Death) I love the bass and I truly appreciate when it stands out in the music and doesn’t just fall into the background..

On drums is Fredrick Widigs who is currently in Marduk. Again not just in the background to aid in showcasing the guitars. It’s in your face, technical and brutal drumming.

The production of this album is superb, nothing gets lost in translation. Every piece of the music can be thoroughly appreciated.

The opening track “Sacred Reprisal” features a slow, dark and gloomy piano/guitar intro, then into track 2 “Mind Rape” immediately gets in your face with catchy guitar riffs and precise, drumming. I think Track 3 “Darkness Falls” has to be my favorite. I’m a huge fan of the guitar solo and this song definitely pays homage to that. I also really love the chorus vocaly, it’s very haunting and stays with you. All in all this entire EP is killer. They know how to seemlessly blend the clean and death vocals, slow more groovy riffs with the chunky more heavy riffs, and all that with an insane rhythm section and thought provoking apocalyptic themed lyrics.. You can not help but want to thrash around when this is playing!!

I have jammed this EP many times and I can honestly say I can’t wait already for what’s next for Beltfed Weapon !! HORNS HIGH!!

Beltfed Weapon Album Review: “Raining Plague” EP

Beltfed Weapon is a Speed/Thrash/Death Metal band from Seattle, USA. Founded in 1999 by Frank Hetzel [Guitar/Songwriter], the band has released three EP’s during its lifetime: “Beltfed Weapon”[2001], “Peacekeeper” [2009], and “Raining Plague” [2015].

The latter EP arrived after Frank had put the band on hiatus in 2009 due to various lineup changes. He returned armed with new songs in 2014 and relaunched Beltfed Weapon by reaching out to professional friends and peers from within the industry. A classic case of “if you don’t ask, you don’t get” resulted in the aforementioned six-track EP, which dropped through my letterbox recently.

Released during the summer of 2015, “Raining Plague” features the following musicians together with Frank Hetzel during the recording process: Steve DiGiorgio (Testament, Death, Sadus) [Bass]; Fredrik Vidigs (Marduk) [Drums]; Dean Sternberg (Where Evil Follows, Ashes Of Ares, ex-Into Eternity touring singer) [Vocals]; and Andy Beech [Lead Guitar]. Duo Jeff Loomis (Arch Enemy, Nevermore, Sanctuary) and Matt Wicklund (Ghost Ship, Ocatvius, God Forbid, Warrel Dane, HIMSA) also made guest appearances during the recording of the EP.

The EP itself runs for 23 minutes, 24 seconds and consists of six tracks. ”Sacred Reprisal” is a short instrumental opener which launches you into the heavy “Mind Rape”. Containing heavy, fast-paced riffs, “Mind Rape” will have you headbanging right off the bat. With a combination of soaring, melodic vocals as well as the more aggressive style, this track is an invigorating listen that’ll get the heart racing. No respite is allowed as Beltfed Weapon continue the momentum with the excellent “Darkness Falls”, with an avalanche of powerful riffs, pummelling drums, and impressive bass lines. Containing bouts of non-stop shredding guitars, this number is a delightful listen.

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