Sledgehammer - Your Arsonist (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Your Arsonist (2004)


One of the biggest and loudest hits in the history of the NFL came courtesy of former Buffalo Bills linebacker Mike Stratton, on one Keith Lincoln of the San Diego Chargers. It was this hit during the AFL Championship game of 1964 that the famed "Stratton Scale" was born into Buffalo lore. This was the scale announcers would use to measure how loud or heavy a hit on a member of the opposing team's offense was. By this logic, it would not be hard at all to rate Sledgehammer's Your Arsonist at an even ten.

Make no mistakes; this hardcore supergroup of sorts is loud, damn loud. This EP bursts straight off the line with "London's Burning," immediately pummeling you with an extremely loud combination of guitar, drums, and vocals. The project is fronted by ex-Integrity singer Dwid Hellion, and backing him are former members of such outfits as Liar, Conrgress, and Death Before Disco. While they may come from different backgrounds, their aim is simple: To make brutal and punishing hardcore that would grab you by the throat and never let go. The lightning quick combination of guitar and drums at the end of this song, combined with the sinister laughing in the background, is truly unrelenting.

Blast-beats, breakdowns and compliments aside, this is in fact a rather boring disc. All the creativity this band has to offer was actually put into the lyrics and liner notes, which are presented as a script, each of the EP's four songs being a scene in that script. It's definitely an interesting idea in what's usually a genre devoid of them, but that creativity doesn't translate quite as fluidly to recording.

But hey, there's a fifteen-minute long hidden track to spice things up a bit, right?

Apparently not. I played this disc on at least 4 different formats, and the secret track that's supposed to be there is nothing more than a vacuous space. Disappointing, for what could have been another element to an EP that grows dull and stale more quickly than I'm sure they'd have liked it to.

This EP is raw, loud, and punishing, and I'm sure everything else that they were aiming for when they recorded this. There's nothing beyond that, however, and that's why it falls flat in the less than 20 minutes it's running for. Fans of the bands that Sledgehammer sprouted from will absolutely devour this, but there's nothing to hold my interest for a third or fourth listen. Here's to hoping this band's career will end faster than Ryan Leaf's.