Bay Area thrash! Despite once being a term that set the pulse racing, a descriptor that let the seeker know some good chug was not far from the earholes, the words BAT tend to set my heart sinking these days.

If I want to listen to the first four Testament albums I can, and should the unlikely event occur when I need to hear some Vio-Lence I’ve got mates who can help me out with that too. New expositors of the art tend to concentrate on these releases as their template, and I really think life’s too short for listening to young hopefuls running through their take on Exodus: The Rob Dukes years…

Hatchet – who actually hail from the legendary city by the bay – used to sound very derivative indeed. But now, on full-lengther number four they’ve ‘come to themselves’ as my horse racing fan of a dad might have said. By which I mean they’ve found their niche, and whilst it still does occasionally stray too close to the ‘bog standard’ file, there’s plenty of variety going in to what is a pretty enjoyable album.

After a shockingly non-acoustic intro piece which actually sounds like Iron Maiden the band head straight into power metal territory for opener proper Genocide. And they do it very well. They don’t get their full thrash on til track three, Desire For Oppression, which is a ripper, but they top this with track five, Warsaw. This is a bit of a stormer, mixing up the afore mentioned Testament feels with a hefty dose of Annihilator (when they were good, natch), and I’ve found myself listening to this quite a bit over the past couple of weeks. It’s the best track on the album by some way.

When Futures Regress is an out-n-out old schooler, but none the worse for that, and the album ends with… you guessed it – a Vio-Lence cover! (it’s World in a World if you’re interested – Ed). But whilst these tracks will probably limit themselves in appeal there’s actually a lot on offer here for any one who enjoys well-played, honest-to-goodness heavy metal. Not bad at all.

Dying to Exist is out now on the Combat/EMP Label.