A lot of great metal came out this year — too much for mere mortals to catch all the good stuff. Even those who make it their business to chase down killer riffage sleep on worthy specimens sometimes. Thus, during the month of December, we will sometimes call Metal Mulligans on albums that we should've written about earlier, but didn't. You can read last year's inaugural edition here.


I have a fast and loose rule when it comes to bands that tag themselves as black/thrash. The more colors that appear on the album cover, the greater the chance that they do something interesting. If the color scheme is black, white, grey, and red, I'll still give the a band a shot, but my expectations are set.

The Last Hope of Humanity was released in late September, and I just got to it in the last three weeks, thus this Metal Mulligan post. While it's ultimately shallow and shaky reasoning, the black/thrash album art rule, and those eyecatching orange and yellow hues, move Last Hope up in my queue. And this time, the rule held true.

Last Hope is the closest thing we're going to get to a new Goatwhore release in 2013. I hate to pigeonhole the band so tightly, and they aren't a clone band, but there's Goatwhore riff after Goatwhore riff all over the album. That's no complaint in my mind.

Goatwhore nods aside, the occasional Morbid Tales-era Celtic Frost passages and the drumming are what set this apart from the standard blastbeat/tremolo-pick-'til-your-wrist-is-thick clangor implied by the black/thrash genre tag. The Celtic Frost influence is strongest on opener "Opening the Gates", but it crops up here and there. The drumming is far beyond the usual creative standard, i.e. none, evinced by these kinds of bands. Back in 2011, Manilla Road's Playground of the Damned surprised me with a drumming performance that was busier and more technical than the album needed. The drumming on The Last Hope of Humanity pulls off a similar trick. Quick little double bass fills sneak in. Accents sometimes aren't where the brain expects them. Blastbeats are tastefully applied to push the music forward rather than create a hypnotic blur, and so on.

Since the performances are tight, and the record is well mixed and cleanly recorded, it can be blasted on a car stereo or PC speakers, and that's how it will mostly be experienced. On a good set of headphones, the drumming stands out too.

Returning to the Goatwhore influences, a sense of glee and fun pervades the record. That will only make sense to metalheads, for whom lyrics like "Crucify him on an inverted cross / With your anger and hate / Hear his screams of sufferance and pain" register as good-time blasphemy. But then we get tracks like "Don't Touch My Glass," which is plainly about leaving a man's drinking the glass the hell alone, and "Goat 'n Roll," which is the kind of tongue-in-cheek blasphemy that Venom peddles by the ton.

While The Last Hope of Humanity didn't make my Top 20 year-end list, it barely missed, and because it's such a fun record, it might actually be played more than certain Top 20 records anyway. It's also encouragement for me to keep paying attention to the black/thrash albums with the most colorful covers, for better or worse.

The Last Hope of Humanity is out on Punishment 18 Records. It is also available via Necromessiah's Bandcamp.

— Richard Street-Jammer