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Thrash Under Pressure: Demolition Hammer

This week takes us to thrash and hardcore haven, New York City, where we take a look at Demolition Hammer.

Demolition Hammer exploded on to the East Coast thrash scene in around 1986. By 1988 they had recorded a demo that proved very popular with fans. Skull Fracturing Nightmare weighs in at around 18 minutes and is pretty no nonsense.

The following year they added a second guitarist to beef up their sound and recorded a new demo, Necrology. This one really got them noticed and they were signed to Century Media Records.

It was pretty much straight in the studio for Demolition Hammer at this point. Tortured Existence was the result – the band’s first official long-player hit the shelves in 1990. It contained all of the songs from the second demo, some from the first and a couple f new songs. Considering it was recorded on a shoestring it sounds immense. Like many bands, Demolition Hammer were playing catch up, having started later. They were still thrashing like it was ’84 while the likes of Metallica were encouraging people to wave cigarette lighters in the air during anthemic ballads. Fast riffs, fast drumming and fast solos were the order of the day.

Riding the momentum of popularity, Demolition Hammer retreated to the studio almost immediately and belted out Epidemic of Violence. The songs had become even faster and the production on this album is much better. They would be making strides towards the hall of fame for thrash heavyweights at this rate.

But of course, as mentioned numerous times previously, the interest in thrash unexpectedly waned in the early 90s. A slight line-up change occurred and new material was written which the band wanted to put out under a new name, being that it sounded completely different. Their label had other ideas and insisted upon a Demolition Hammer release.

What was released was the 1994 album, Time Bomb. The band’s logo was different, possibly echoing the change of musical direction. The songs were slower and heavier and there were no guitar solos. In fact Demolition Hammer now sounded a little bit like a Pantera and Machine Head cocktail. Adapting with the times or selling out? Either way it was the least popular of the band’s releases.

Tragedy struck in 1996 when long-time drummer Vinnie Daze was travelling in Africa and died of globefish poisoning.

The band were inactive for a number of years, but their fanbase continued to grow. Their label capitalised on this by releasing a full anthology with some bonus demos chucked into the mix in 2008.

There was nothing from Demolition Hammer until this year when they announced they were active once again and arranged to play a show in Brooklyn which sold out within three minutes of tickets going on sale. They also played what is an actual festival and not a bloodbath following a disagreement over cookies, the Maryland Deathfest.

As of yet there are no plans to record any new material.

Put them on your playlist: Crippling Velocity, Orgy of Destruction, Power Struggle

About the author

Tim Jones

I’m an East Yorkshire-based fan of thrash, hardcore and punk who likes to write about it as much as he likes to talk about it.