Hemlock - No Time For Sorrow (Blind Prophecy/Riot)

This release, Hemlock's fifth, is characterised by super heavy bass and drums, which are the greatest elements of the album.

Hemlock are a band from Nevada in the US comprised of Chad Smith (bass/lead vocals), Mike Johns (guitars/backing vocals), Richard Burnett (guitars/backing vocals) and Brian Smith (drums). They’ve been around in one incarnation or another since around 1993 and have shared a stage with the likes of Slipknot, Obituary, Drowning Pool and Chimaira. So they have a strong background and good associations. But, to my ears, they’re heavier and meaner than any of those bands.

No Time For Sorrow is the band’s fifth album. It opens with a strong doomy riff and a powerful growl, "It looks like it's gonna rain!" They leave no question of style. The band describes themselves as “a good heavy brutal onslaught of metal, with an arsenal of catchy lyrics, creative breakdowns and melodic hooks.” That’s a pretty good description.

The standout for me on this record really is the tight drum and bass combo. The bass playing is excellent, heavy and loose, like a behemoth of a dragon flapping its wings. The drums are accurate and fast, with great breakdowns. That’s not to put down the guitars, which are solid, pumping out powerful riffs that chug along relentlessly. But the super heavy bass and drums really make this release for me.

Hemlock have a primarily thrash sound, but it’s very doom laden. Smith’s deep, growly vocals sound great and fit with the tone of the music. They are not tacked on and just growling for the sake of it. Smith uses his voice to excellent effect and the lyrics are clearly comprehensible through his death-like delivery.

Some tracks on this release are essentially love songs, with lyrics that wouldn’t be out of place on a pop record. For example, track 8, The Reason: I give thanks for you believing in me/ You’re the reason why I am. But it doesn’t sound like a love song the way Hemlock play it.

Other tracks have some political comment, like track 2, Red Sky Revolution: Charles Manson and the government are a lot alike/ because behind the scenes they are the masterminds/ It seems like the bloodshed never gets on their own hands.

It’s good stuff, well put together and well delivered.

Throughout the album there’s a distinct style, but it doesn’t get boring. The pace is relentless, but there are enough well made breakdowns and melodic breaks to prevent it becoming muddy. This is the kind of record that will give you a very sore neck if you let yourself go with it. I reckon these guys would be a great live act to see, so I’ll be looking out for them if they ever tour near me.

Hemlock's No Time for Sorrow is out now on Blind Prophecy/Riot.