Monday, March 7, 2011
THORHAMMER - Double-trouble feature!
Thorhammer is a new-ish 4-piece thrash metal outfit hailing from St. Louis, Missouri, smack bang in the middle of the ol’ U.S.A. Guitarist/frontman Kyle McNeil formed the band in late 2009 with his bass-playing brother Sean and their best mate Ryan Smith, the drummer. After searching around for a lead guitarist, Vince Kelly jumped into the picture and completed the lineup. They play a hard-hitting yet melodic and very catchy style of thrash that relies heavily on NWOBHM influences as well as the usual thrash suspects and some less-obvious influences.
I managed to get in contact with Kyle for an interview, and for convenience sake have also attached a review of their demo “Krusades” at the bottom of this post! Enjoy my special Thorhammer double-trouble feature!
Good evening Kyle, how are you tonight? Lets get right into it, shall we? Could you give me a bit of background on Thorhammer? Who's in the band, what style you guys play and how the band came to be?
Excellent! Although over here it's morning, haha. ThorHammer is myself (Guitar/vocals) my actual brother Sean McNeil (bass guitar), my best friend from high-school Ryan Smith (drums) and my former neighbor Vince Kelly (lead guitar). The weird bit is when Vince and I were neighbors we never met, but he was tempted to come talk to me when he saw the pentagram spraypainted on the back of my van! And of course I've known my brother all my life, and once our old band MCF broke up (in which I played drums) I started playing guitar so we could write together, when I was about 19 or so, and I had wanted to be in a band with Ryan ever since we met in math class but never really could because we were both drummers.
We try to take classic thrash metal in the vein of Megadeth, Testament, Slayer, and the like, and incorporate more melodic elements into the songwriting, which hopefully gives us a little bit of a twist that a lot of newer thrash bands aren't doing.
Sounds like you guys are doing this for all the right reasons!
So in a nutshell, how would you describe Thorhammers' sound and what are the bands influences?
Hmm, I would say our sound is like if Iron Maiden smoked a lot of crack, and sometimes sounds like if Megadeth actually didn't smoke crack. We're all about the badass drumming, funky basslines, and dual guitar harmonies.
We all have a wide range of influences, and we're all big stoners so it's pretty varied. We dig anything from Pink Floyd to Arsis, but mainly our sound is directly influenced by the greats, Megadeth, Maiden, Slayer, Kreator, Motorhead, Thin Lizzy, and newer stuff like Skeletonwitch. Basically anything that kicks ass haha.
I certainly would not argue with that description!
What’s the metal scene like in and around Missouri? Are there any bands worth mentioning who you’re a fan of or have shared the stage with?
The metal scene around here...is a work in progress to put it nicely. There's a lot of bullshit out here, just like with anywhere else, but we're working hard to improve it. Damn near everybody out here is fed up with how things have been the past couple years and now there are bands actually worth seeing. The better bands around here are Megalith, Anacrusis (who is starting to do more shows now), Terra Caput Mundi, Black Fast, Lovely Destruction and some dudes from a bit west of here called Creaturezoid. We've played with all of those bands except Megalith and Anacrusis. Oh yeah and I play bass in Vacant Grave and drum for Decapitated Saints on the side, so now there are a few good thrash acts around here, haha.
Sounds like things are really picking up! Which is great to hear.
What projects are/have you and the other Thorhammer guys been involved in?
Sean and I used to be in a band called MCF (Mongolian Cluster Fuck). It was a good group, we had a ridiculously evil sounding singer but our riffs were kinda happy sounding. Ryan has only been in one other band, which is called Hemorrhaging Elysium and they are like a blackened/death/grind group, pretty spastic stuff, kinda weird gigging with them haha. To my knowledge this is Vince's first time in a band that plays shows.
The multiple band experience definitely shows within Thorhammers' songs! So tell us a bit about your upcoming demo "Krusades", what do you think it has to offer the metal-listening public?
I think it gives the listener a bit more to chew on in some parts. Lots of bands in the new wave of thrash are copying off each other, or ripping off the classics. I mean sometimes we are guilty of that as well, but I think the core of our sound is a lot more melodic than your normal thrash records. I think we have a bit of something for everybody, because we're all fans of different styles and it all finds its way into our music. Except for rap and country of course, haha. Gotta keep that stuff as far away from metal music as possible!
No arguments here! One thing I've noticed when listening to the demo is that it's just a really fun listen. It's catchy the whole way through and doesn't bore the listener with needless wankery, it's all about the melodic thrashing twin-guitar attack! You really sound like a couple of blokes having a good time. Would you agree that Thorhammer is primarily about good friendly violent fun?
Yes, one hundred percent. We're not really pissed at anybody, and we certainly don't have to prove how metal we are by how much we hate posers and corny shit like that. By the way I've noticed that bands who rag about posers the whole time, tend to have the most poserish tendencies. BONDED BY BIEBER! You know who you are...
But yeah we're not getting up there and bitching about getting fucked over by broads or how much it sucks not having a job, we tell stories about viking raiders and stuff that's actually fun to listen to, for me anyway.
I think the fun-factor is what makes you fellas worth listening to, really, it's the kind of stuff I wanna chuck on at the end of a long day when all I want to do is have a couple of cold ones and chill out to some good ol' fashion 'eavy metal!
Speaking of fun, have you got any funny or interesting stories to tell from Thorhammers short career thus far?
Probably our most fun gig was an out of town show we played out in a town called Willow Springs with our redneck friends, we played in a redneck bar four hours away for half an hour, and got paid 40 bucks! ha that ALMOST covered half our gas! The things we do in the name of heavy metal! They're great guys though, and we're gonna be playin with them again in a couple weeks.
That's the way it is with underground metal these days, I'm afraid! The main thing is you had a great time, though.
So what's next for Thorhammer? Any caveman tours? Any merch to go with the demo when it comes out (Thorhammer g-string PLEASE!)? Are you working on any new material?
Yeah, actually, we plan on cave-manning our way across the midwest (Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas) July 10-24. The demo should be out soon, but the merch will come after we've given out all our free demos (yes we're making quality shit and giving it away!) And as far as merch, we're planning on making logo t's, and I personally wanna get some booty shorts made, because I think it's everyone's dream to see their band's name emblazoned upon a rockin' booty! Maybe making some "tobacco" pipes in the shape of Mjolnir, haha, can't think of any other bands selling pipes.
Haha, the booty pants and the pipes are very original! And good luck with the cave-man tour!
Now to wrap this up, I would like to thank you for your time and let you know I really appreciate the interview.
Is there anything else you would like to say to myself or the readers?
Thanks for doing this man! And to anybody out there who gives a fuck what is going on in thrash metal, I advise you to check out the forums at www.thrashunlimited.com, to follow us on reverbnation at www.reverbnation.com/thorhammer (we have 2 free downloads there!). And if anybody wants to stay updated on what St. Louis is up to in the metal community, go to this page and "like" it: http://www.facebook.com/pages/STL-DIY-Metal/135549116500018
Thanks for the support dude and thrash on!
Now for part 2 of my Thorhammer double feature! Here’s what I thought of their energy-fueled demo “Krusades”!
The first track “Kingdom of Fire” begins with a screaming guitar intro that brings to mind early Slayer and Metallica, it has that slow build-up into a mid-paced riff leading into a fast and energetic song that a few of the aforementioned bands early albums featured. It also comes across as very NWOBHM influenced, again in the style of the earlier influential thrash metal bands. There’s also a pretty cool solo/instrumental section towards the end which is pretty cool. The vocals are in the mid-high pitched range and fit the sound quite well. All in all it’s a solid and fun track.
“Krusade” kicks things straight into gear with a fast paced riff and highly energetic and melodic vocals screaming battle cries! It’s a damn catchy song and by the end of it you’ll be yelling “FOREVER, CRUSADE!” along with Kyle. Oh, did I mention it has some really cool guitar parts that stand out from the rest of the demo? Well, it does, especially the really melodic solo about halfway through!
The third song on this demo, “Immolator”, again kicks things into high gear straight away with a catchy riff and some cool vocal parts with faced paced drumming that drives everything along nicely. Kyle really shines through with his voice in this song. It’s all about the vocals and the catchy mid-paced riff sections later on in this song. Hell, who am I kidding? Every song on this demo is ALL about the fuckin’ guitars! They’re so catchy and infectious it’s almost ridonkulous!
The fourth and final track “Smoke and Mirrors” again begins with a Metallica-esque intro that builds things up and shows off Vince’s awesome song-writing skills on the axe. The intro builds into an awesome mid-paced chugging section that really gives off a Ride The Lightening vibe. Why can’t I stop comparing this bands guitar style to early Metallica?! These guys really sound like a more NWOBHM influenced RTL era Metallica. To be fair, though, there are a lot more influences that are very evident within their sound on this release such as Diamond Head, early Iron Maiden, and a touch of early Exodus and Megadeth (especially in the vocals, same goes for Diamond Head).
So in a nutshell, this demo is great, the production could be a bit better, vocals a bit higher in the mix maybe, but the playing and the songwriting is spot on. I also forgot to touch on the occasional use of cool gang vocal parts in a couple of the tracks, listen for them, they kick arse and don’t sound out of place at all. These guys really know what they’re doing! I wish Thorhammer the best of luck with their career and really look forward to hearing more from them in the future, some serious potential lurks within this beast! I really don’t have anything bad to say except for a few small nitpicky bits here and there that will naturally fix themselves by the time they record an EP or a full length, small potatoes really.