For more than 20 years, Frank Hetzel has been a staple of the Seattle metal scene. He first established himself in the music business by booking national and international touring bands. On the side – at least at first – he was the guitarist and main songwriter for Beltfed Weapon, a Pacific Northwest band influenced by speed, thrash, and death metal.
Over the years, the group released three critically-acclaimed EPs, and along the way, Beltfed Weapon played shows with metal luminaries including Testament, Over-Kill. Death Angel, Nevermore, Mushroomhead, Nile, God Forbid, Nuclear Assault, Cryptopsy, and Agnostic Front. More recently, Hetzel teamed with ex- Metal Church vocalist Ronny Munroe to release the single and video “P.O.W.” Proceeds helped cover medical expenses for Munroe’s wife and manager, who was battling cancer.
Now, following five difficult years of interpersonal turmoil, external obstacles, and pandemic-induced complications, Beltfed Weapon have returned with their best, most ambitious, and most creative offering. Instead of writing, recording, and releasing a new batch of songs with the same musicians, Hetzel spent years writing five new songs and tracking them with an all-star lineup that includes members of Morbid Angel, Control Denied, Arch Enemy, Black Label Society, Testament, Into Eternity, and Heathen. And now that the new Beltfed Weapon songs are done, Hetzel plans to gradually release them – one every six to eight weeks – along with a series of explosive lyric videos.
After the new Beltfed Weapon songs are released – either as single tracks or vivid lyric videos – all five will be issued as the EP Darkened Demise. Hetzel wrote the title track as an apocalyptic thrash-death number that features Morbid Angel’s growling vocalist Steve Tucker (who also handles vocals on the fierce “Killing Machine”). While Aymar is the dominant voice on the EP (singing on “Headfirst into Hell,” “Eternal Fire” and “Accept Your Insanity”), Tucker offers a stark, compelling contrast to Aymar’s more tuneful approach.
Combining four or more styles of metal into a single batch of songs is no small accomplishment. And Darkened Demise is packed with abrupt tempo shifts, staggered rhythms, extended middle-eights, and other musical hairpin turns that keep the music exciting and unpredictable.
Hetzel came up with the title Darkened Demise off the top of his head and decided that the name sounded as “metal” as the song. It was only after he Googled the title that he learned that a “darkened demise” is the death of a corrupt, powerful leader, a definition that fit the vibe of the EP and the tone of the times. Plus, it feeds right into his interest in history, especially the history of war.
Since Beltfed Weapon is currently a supergroup of musicians in vastly different locations, Hetzel has no plans to embark on a lengthy tour. At this point, he wants to schedule a record release show when the EP comes out and maybe assorted concerts with various players on the album. Hetzel hopes that word-of-mouth will provide the bulk of awareness for Darkened Demise, the same way metal bands spread the word back in the days before major labels realized the music was marketable. As much as anything, Darkened Demise is a labor of love – a project Hetzel pursued by himself with a bunch of friends and guests he invited along for the ride.
Read more about BELTFED WEAPON at https://beltfedweapon.net/band/