The Phantom Tollbooth

Rock the Foe Hammer
Artist: Warlord
Label: Solid State Records
Time: 12 tracks/54:32 min.

The Warlord EP is a favorite of mine, I'll admit.  The four songs of doomy hardcore showed great promise for the future.  But alas, this promise was not to be fulfilled.  The band changed their name to This Fire Within, then changed it back to Warlord one week later, then lost their second guitarist.  Finally, Warlord managed to record their debut, Rock the Foe Hammer, but then immediately disbanded, making this their first and last album.

Whereas the Warlord EP treaded new ground in doomy hardcore, medieval imagery, heavily distorted and atmospheric guitar tones, and near-punk vocals, Rock the Foe Hammer takes more of a scum-core/generic hardcore approach.  While some of the songs manage to retain a bit of the epic vibe of the EP, the mostly repetitive guitar and drum work just seems to drone on endlessly.  The over driven vocal shouts of Ricky Rodgers are extremely annoying and grating for the most part, though they work well on songs like "The Glory Days."  While most of the songs are overly long,  "A Knife In the Dark" works fairly well, if only for the fact that we only have to listen to those awful vocals for three minutes.

Warlord has improved their lyrics, whereas most of the lines from the EP were old hymns re-done, the biting words of "Internal Combustion" prove that Warlord has a message and a social conscience:

I was hungry and you formed a humanities club
to discuss my hunger.
thank you
I was imprisoned and you crept off quietly
to your chapel to pray for my release
how nice.
I was naked, and in your mind you debated the
morality of my appearance.
what did it do?
Why the band opted not to continue to develop their "doomcore" sound will probably become one of those never-ending debates.  While this album is decent in areas such as production and lyrics, it falls short with boring riffs and grooves, endless songs, and those wretched vocals.  I've come to expect a certain level of quality from Solid State, and this does nothing to further that trust.  Meanwhile, I'll continue to hope that some band ,somewhere will pick up where the Warlord EP left off.

Joe Rockstroh   9/6/99