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  • Jason Hesley

Beltfed Weapon release a lyric video for "Eternal Fire!

After releasing their third EP, the highly acclaimed Raining Plague, in 2015, Seattle metal band Beltfed Weapon had a rough time locking down dedicated musicians. So, band founder and guitarist Frank Hetzel took matters into his own hands. Instead of wasting time auditioning new musicians, he wrote a batch of songs on his own and then recruited an all-star lineup to work with for the new EP, Darkened Demise.

A two-decade music business veteran, Hetzel has met and befriended some of the greatest artists from various subgenres of metal over the years. And once they heard the new Beltfed Weapon songs, members from bands as diverse as Morbid Angel, Exhorder, Into Eternity, Arch Enemy, Black Label Society, Testament, and Heathen were excited to help. Working with talented guest musicians wasn’t a completely novel concept for Hetzel, who played with Testament bassist Steve DiGiorgio, former Marduk drummer Fredrik Widigs, and Arch Enemy guitarist Jeff Loomis when he needed-some in-studio help for Raining Plague. But for Darkened Demise, Hetzel knew what he wanted from the start, and who he wanted to work with, and couldn’t be happier with the five new songs. “It’s definitely the best thing I’ve ever done,” he says.

The first Beltfed Weapon track in five years, “Headfirst Into Hell,” is a multidimensional assault that features clean vocals by Tim Aymar of Control Denied (the last band to include Death founder Chuck Schuldiner). The song is both rousing and roiling, rife with thrash riffs, double- bass drumming, and prog/power metal rhythms; Loomis and Heathen’s Kragen Lum added guitar solos.

Loomis also played on the piledriving “Accept Your Insanity,” which is rounded out by Black Label Society bassist J.D. DeServio, and Into Eternity drummer Bryan Newberry. The title track of the EP is an apocalyptic thrash-death number that features Morbid Angel’s Steve Tucker, whose feral growls contrast with Aymar’s more melodic singing (Tucker performs on two of the five songs and Aymar commands the other three).

Darkened Demise is both skull-crushing and musically diverse. More than that, it’s a labor of love – a project Hetzel pursued by himself with a bunch of friends and guests he invited along for the ride.

“It has been a long process, but it has been very therapeutic and rewarding,” he concludes. “To have all these people on it that I’ve been listening to for decades is incredible. If we sell records, great, but I feel great just knowing how it all came together and how well it came out.”

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