Thrash may be part of metal's sense of humor, but Hammerlord is no joke. The local metal band hearkens back to the days before corpse paint and song titles that read like William Blake poems. With Wolves at War's End, Hammerlord proves that pummeling, driving drums and earth-scorching guitars don't have to be bleak and depressing. You can, in fact, write songs about the Undertaker ("Tombstone Piledriver") or a minor Twin Peaks character ("The Ballad Of Rusty Tomaski") that are just as metal as something called "Fermented Offal Discharge." (Any band willing to introduce a song named "Storm the Castle" with a sample of Miracle Max from The Princess Bride has the grace not to take itself too seriously.) The more traditional "The Anomaly Rue" is the album's highlight, though. The song features standout performances by every band member. Stevie Cruz's vocals hit the perfect balance between guttural roar and rasping scream; J.P. Gaughan and Ty Scott's guitars play off each other, trading maximum riffage with orchestral soloing; and Adam Mitchell's drums and Terry Taylor's bass rumble behind it all like ominous thunder.