Although they only released a few demos and a 12” EP during the band’s original active period (1984-1990), Witches Hammer occupies a prominent place among the pantheon of Canadian Speed Metal masters. The original lineup featured guitarist Marco Banco, who was just 15 years old when the band recorded its first demo, vocalist Rayy Crude, bassist Steve “Naïve” Withrow, and on drums, Rayy’s brother, the late John Prizmic. Witches Hammer’s name may not have been widely known during the band’s existence, but they were a crucial piece of the Vancouver extreme metal scene, most notably through their influence on the members of Blasphemy. (Banco would, of course, later play guitar for Blasphemy on the legendary “Fallen Angel of Doom” album.) The response to the recent Witches Hammer live performances has been uniformly positive, further reinforcing Banco’s and Crude’s resolve to press forward. The result of this effort is the astonishing “Damnation Is My Salvation” album. The current band’s sound is a perfect extrapolation of the earlier recordings. Witches Hammer delivers the same primitive, evil thrash but slightly blackened and more technical, tastefully reflecting the unavoidable influence of the musical developments during the intervening years, achieving a sound reminiscent of bands like Ares Kingdom and Destroyer 666. Three songs on “Damnation Is My Salvation” are re-recorded versions of classic tracks from earlier releases; “Frozen God,” “Deadly Mantis,” and the eponymous, “Witches Hammer” all originally appeared on the band’s demos, but are now revived and repurposed for this new lineup. The other tracks, all newly written and recorded, are masterful. Directed by Banco’s virtuosic guitar work, Witches Hammer deliver a searing frenzy of wretched riffs, frenetic bass, and relentless percussion, perfectly complemented by the barbed rasps of Crude’s menacing vocals. Few bands, if any, have reformed after decades of inactivity to produce such a powerful addition to an already tremendous catalog. With this album, Witches Hammer both reinforces and builds upon its significant legacy.