Chicago band American Draft released Hawk in mid-December of last year. I don’t think the CD has been sitting on my desk quite that long, but once I finally peeled off the shrink wrap and popped it in for a listen I knew this would be an album played over and over again in my house (or in the car, on the iPod, whatever). My love affair with metal has been on an old school bend for awhile now, not just to revisit the glory days but for the melodic joy of metal that was a bit easier on the ears. American Draft brings me swinging back into modern metal territory with plenty of progressive, melodic goodness, lots of blistering grooves, and enough technical jams to please the purists.
The eight tracks on Hawk are simply phenomenal. The title track starts the album off on a slow note – carefully calculated but smoldering – before throwing the listener headlong in to “Diet of Worms”. This is where the full-force of American Draft hits. The group’s (mostly) instrumental metal mayhem is fueled with plenty of soaring riffs and chunky bass. While so many instrumental bands try to weirdly compensate with overly complicated music, American Draft gets it just right. “Dragon” has some screamy vocals punctuating the chaos, but this actually detracts from an otherwise great song.
Eight tracks of blistering metal hasn’t sounded this good in a long time. American Draft is a tight unit, and the band has a lot going for it. Great musicianship, excellent song structure, and a balance of styles that are nuanced enough to keep the listener entertained makes this (mostly) instrumental album a keeper.