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The Day of Wrath (1985)

The Day of Wrath is the first full-length album from Bulldozer, released on Roadrunner Records in March 1985. This Italian band was highly influenced by Venom, among others, and seemed to pick up the torch that the English trio had dropped and forgotten. Cronos, Mantas and Abaddon failed to capitalize on the sound that they had created and by 1985, bands like Bulldozer were no longer waiting for them to come to their senses. They decided to carry on without them, bearing the malevolent flame of black metal and injecting it with a renewed intensity. Their debut L.P. did well to build upon the foundation set forth by albums like Welcome To Hell and Black Metal, while showing a willingness to take things even further than what Venom were capable or prepared to do.

It begins with "The Exorcism", which is an intro that sets a dark tone with sounds that hearken back to '70s horror movies, soon exploding into a raging inferno of instruments crashing together and the screams of the damned joining in to overpower your senses.

The first song is "Cut Throat", which wastes no time in thundering ahead at a whiplash-inducing speed. The riffs are very reminiscent of the likes of Venom and Bathory which, of course, owe quite a bit to Motörhead. The vocals are harsher than most anything that Cronos had done, though not to the level of demonic possession displayed by Quorthon. The playing is very tight and the music bears an added level of intensity as a result. The overall sound is powerful and completely killed Possessed, which was released some weeks later.

"Insurrection of the Living Damned" has a more relaxed feel, by comparison, but still boasts the same type of impure riffing as the previous track. The vocals are even more distorted and this serves to increase the hellish feeling. The songwriting is a bit more epic, here, with even the vocal patterns adding to this feeling. The lead solos are more on the melodic side, rather than producing a chaotic vibe. This song features somewhat of a false-finish, as it seems to build up to an end, only to lead into a typical '80s riff that sounds familiar the very first time you hear it.

The next song, "Fallen Angel" is centered around a riff that hearkens back to "Live Like an Angel (Die Like a Devil)", though with a more intense execution. Bursting from the depths of Satan's realm, this volatile music is not without any sense of melody, greatly aided by the killer lead solos. It is here where the NWOBHM influence can be most strongly heard. This rather straightforward tune was my introduction to Bulldozer, and made a great impression.

"The Great Deceiver" starts with a mid-paced riff before unleashing another frenzied assault on the senses. The lead guitar offers some oddly upbeat-sounding melodies, at times. After a few minutes, this song kind of breaks down and possesses more of a jam-session feeling, which still works within the context of the album, especially due to the production. The mix of this record is clear enough but quite raw for a full-length effort and has a primitive vibe.

A bit of an ominous feeling is present at the beginning of "Mad Man", a song that shows the band utilizing a slightly more complex style of songwriting. The riffs are more involved and display the proficiency of the band members. The vocals are a little more harsh than on the previous tracks, sounding more demonic and the frequent lead solos work well to accentuate the sense of dread that is created by the main riffs. Late in the song, the bass lines are much more audible, though this is overshadowed by the brief teaser riff that closes out the song. One gets the feeling that Bulldozer was capable of pulling off much more, in a technical sense, but played their style because that is what they wanted to present. On the other hand, many of their peers struggled even to keep up with this type of playing, due to a lack of skill.

"Whiskey Time" is the sort of song that pleases most stereotypical metalheads that worship alcohol and that lifestyle. The atmosphere is much less serious than the rest of the album and this comes off as filler, more than anything else.

The darkness and evil return for "Welcome Death", a mid-paced song that is built around slow doom riffs and carries a morbid feeling. This may be the gloomiest track on the whole record. Despite this, there are some more dynamic and memorable riffs interspersed with the others, along with nice touches of old school drumming. The lead solo, late in the song, slithers around you in a menacing way, sounding more calculated and lethal than some of the previous ones. The serious tone of this song makes up for the throw-away garbage that came right before and does well to bring the listener deeper down into the murky shadows.

"Welcome Death, enter in my soul
Now I'm ready, I beg your call"

The epic and morbid atmosphere is carried over into "Endless Funeral", which is an instrumental that closes out this classic album the way it should be, with a dark vibe leaving the final impression. The lead guitar gives this a melancholic vibe, as the main riffs crush any remaining sense of optimism that you may have had. While the album has many ups and downs, the listener is left at a low point and this is as it should be. This should not be taken as a joke, and certainly not relegated to background noise while idiots get drunk and party. Those that fail to take it seriously will only realize their error when it is too late.

The Day of Wrath is a classic slab of black/speed metal, and Bulldozer's most glorious contribution. They would never again reach this level of quality. While that may have played a role in the band not reaching the level of notoriety that many of their peers attained, this record is essential and comes highly recommended. For anyone into old school black metal to not own this is a crime. This is for anyone that worships the early releases from Venom, Bathory and Sodom. Buy this, immediately.
(7 Dec. 2011)

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