For a song named “Hope Annihilator“, it kindles hope — actually it provides more of an assurance than a hope — that heavy metal will live forever. It’s such a damned good song, in part because it so seamlessly interlocks so many classic sounds, and because it’s delivered with such authentic spirit. And, to be fair, it’s also an annihilator.
The song comes from the new fourth album by the Italian band Barbarian, which has a timeless name in addition to a brilliant amalgam of classic sounds: To No God Shall I Kneel. The album will be released on June 7th by Hells Headbangers, with suitably barbaric cover art by Acid Witch’s Shagrat.
“Hope Annihilator” is the second track revealed from the album so far. The first one, “Birth and Death of Rish’ah“, richly merited the PR references to early Running Wild and ’80s Manowar, to classic Celtic Frost and Venom. It’s a great mix of savagery, glory, and gloom, a kind of blackened old-school heavy metal that’s the stuff of swords and sorcery but is also red meat for a headbanger. It soars as much as it romps, while also creating a mythic, fantastical atmosphere. It makes you want to close your eyes, throw your head back, and hoist invisible oranges to the sky.
Like that first track, “Hope Annihilator” sinks its hooks in your head damned fast, maybe even faster, thanks to a riff that alternately darts and brays. But that’s just the beginning of the wind-up, which further includes solemn, chant-like tones over a riotous drum eruption. When the pitch comes, it’s a warlike charge of scorching vocal ferocity, battering drums, and cruel, scything guitar work — which alternates with a kind of lurching, menacing cadence before the song launches into a gritty thrashing gallop.
There is, of course, a solo, which suits the anthemic qualities of the music, and an even more anthemic ending. My only problem with the song is that the ending comes too soon. I would have been quite happy for Barbarian to cycle that epic ending for a few more minutes. Fortunately, there are four more songs to come after “Hope Annihilator”, and they won’t let you down.
To No God Shall I Kneel will be released by Hells Headbangers on CD, LP, and cassette tape, and it’s available to order now: