Charlton Heston wasn’t going to give up his guns, not while he was alive anyway. Those enemies of freedom that dared try would have to kill him first.

Before God and country, and members of the National Rifle Association, this steely-eyed “cowboy” once held a rifle above his head and warned that the only way they’d take it was “from my cold, dead hands.”

Michael Moore made a big deal about it in “Bowling for Columbine,” his scathing indictment of the pro-gun lobby. And now, Steve “Zetro” Souza, the former Exodus front man who now heads up the unstoppable thrash-metal throwback Hatriot, is offering a counterpoint, unearthing audio of Heston’s quote to introduce “My Cold Dead Hands,” an intense and vicious defense of the Second Amendment and gun rights that opens the band’s ferocious sophomore effort Dawn of the New Centurion.

Souza is just as passionate about preserving the basic tenets of thrash, as Dawn of the New Centurion provides the kind of visceral thrills, relentless sonic violence and startling energy that started the wildfire that engulfed metal in the early days of Metallica, Souza’s own Legacy – which would morph into Testament – and, not to be outdone, Exodus. A seething cauldron of frenzied sonic violence, Dawn of the New Centurion is barely harnessed thrash-metal fury, comprised of indestructible song structures, hammering drums, a bewildering variety of raging, high-velocity guitar riffs – courtesy of the mysteriously named Kosta “V” – and Souza’s demonic, almost reptilian vocals.

Gnashing his teeth in the midst of dizzying cyclones of sound, Souza loads lethal doses of venom into murderous, vengeful lyrics, his hell-spawned screeds coming through loud and clear in the chugging, surging monolith “Superkillafragadisticactsaresoatrocious,” and its earthquake of a successor, the dangerously seismic, hard-charging “Silence in the House of the Lord.” Even more brutal and punishing is the rampaging “World Funeral,” a Slayer-like blitzkrieg of death and destruction with an explosive solo from Kosta “V” that is pure hell fire.

And that’s not the only example of his electrifying speed and brilliant tonality, as Hatriot displays an innate ability to vary tempos, with the blistering ”Your Worst Enemy” running smack dab into the heavy wrecking ball that is “The Fear Within,” its building drama, stampeding blast beats and melodic guitars erupting into a riot that keeps escalating. The aggression is amplified, and so is the excitement, as Hatriot races toward the heart-stopping closer “Consolation for the Insane,” bringing this crazed carnival ride to a blazing end.

At times, the sonic carnage not only threatens to overwhelm any semblance of melody, it burns the evidence, and because of this, Dawn of the New Centurion might be a powerhouse record with classy production that hits like a brick to the face, but its songs are far from memorable. Not quite as raw as its predecessor, Dawn of the New Centurion is, nevertheless, a shot of adrenaline to the heart, scary and bestial, moving with instrumental agility, a fast pace that would kill anybody with a heart condition and slashing sharpness. The family affair that is Hatriot – Souza’s sons Cody, on bass, and Nick, on drums, round out the lineup – is not at all dysfunctional, at least not musically speaking.

Label: Massacre Records