(TheMadIsraeli is in catch-up mode, reviewing five albums in this one post. You’ll find music from all the albums at the end.)
Welcome to power hour, the thing I do when I try to catch up on shit I should’ve reviewed long ago. It’s called power hour not because it’s an hour of music, but because it’ll take you a fucking hour to read the shit.
Sometimes we miss things here at NCS, and often enough I feel like an asshole for doing it, especially when I’m the guy who would normally cover the stuff we miss. So this is my attempt to reconcile. Five reviews in one, baby, deal with it.
As such though, I thought I’d make this themed, so it’s the thrash power hour. Let’s start with a relative newcomer…
Ok, so Crisix… These guys gained a pretty good following with their debut album The Menace, and for good reason. Crisix take the machine-tight noodily technicality of early Testament, Annihilator, and Forbidden, mix it with the raunch factor of Overkill and Exodus, than add Municipal Waste party thrash atmosphere to taste. Their sound is quite accomplished and mature sounding for a band as young as they are.
Rise… Then Rest is their sophomore album and it brings even more of this band’s brand of “ultra thrash” (a band-coined term) to the forefront. Crisix are very much a “more is more” band. The guitar front is loaded with spider riffing, obscene amounts of dual guitar harmony, and a love for tempo changes. The vocal front takes the same approach, with traditional thrash shouts, gang vocals, guttural borderline-death-metal vocals, the rare nearly black-metal snarl, and Tom Araya “Angel of Death” screams. As a result, Rise… Then Rest is packed to the brim with musical meat.
I admit that for some it may be a too-exhausting listen. It doesn’t leave much breathing room, but if you’re a huge fan of the unrelenting and the tastefully gratuitous, this will be right up your alley. It is for me.
P.S. There’s a song with a fucking harmonica solo in it.
P.S.S. Gonna include stuff from their first album at the end of this post as well, for the sake of overall exposure.
Violator are about as close as we’ll ever come to hearing what Beneath The Remains/Arise-era Sepultura would sound like when mixed with Extreme Aggression/Coma Of Souls Kreator. They’ve been at this for a while too, since 2002, but only recently have the band been releasing full-lengths.
Scenarios of Brutality is the band’s second album and carries their style of ferocity to its high point so far. Violator’s music isn’t as technical as Crisix’s, preferring hooks with a technical edge in their riffing in order to keep the momentum going non-stop, old-school Sepultura style. When the riffing does tech itself up though, when the Kreator influence rears its head, it’s quite a delight in that laying into you with incisions of sadistic adulation kinda way.
Violator also know how to speed things the fuck up, as the general pace of this album is consistently somewhere between Sepultura fuck you up and Dark Angel the sound barrier just got nuked to fuck lines. I’ve loved this band for a while, and they show no signs of their sonic evisceration losing its edge.
Death Angel have been on fucking fire since Killing Season. I’m not sure what sparked the musical change except a gap of 4-5 years since The Art of Dying, but the quality of their thrash-fu took a huge turn for the better. I would mainly attribute this to Death Angel doing what Forbidden and Testament have done, which is getting with the times. Death Angel are still truly thrash at its hardest, but like Testament and Forbidden they’ve included elements of modern metal in general, as well as taken notes from the best of the thrash new blood.
The Dream Calls for Blood IS Death Angel’s best album yet. It’s a steamroller of third degree burn administering flamethrower thrash that showcases old blood, showing they are still more than merely relevant. The riffs maintain a perfect center of balance — equally technical, hooky, and meaty, the kind of thing it takes a veteran’s mind to craft. Mark Osgueda’s vocals have also never sounded better. His odd symmetry of raw shout intensity and power metal timbre is at its best here. Definitely one of the best thrash records of the year.
(The Dream Calls for Blood will be released by Nuclear Blast on October 15 in NorthAm, October 14 in the UK, and October 11 in the rest of Europe.)
I think we just need to face it at this point that Havok are both the new Exodus and Anthrax rolled into one. The slightly punky character, the reckless sense of abandon, the swagger, and the uninhibited adrenaline-fueled aggression have really earned these guys a rightful amount of praise. Their last record Time Was Up was phenomenal — borderline if not flat-out perfect — and the Point of No Return EP right before this new album had two of the band’s best songs, as well as two excellent covers, showing a band who knew how to derive the right amount of influence, but also knew how to apply their own flair.
Unnatural Selection is merely more of their particular cuisine, delivering more of David Sanchez’s Mustaine-esque snarls and bridge-gapping riffage that’s endlessly memorable. The music is pure trademark Havok. It’s intense, it’s fun, and it’s brutalizing all at the same time.
I kind of feel like still liking Annihilator is a controversial thing in the metal world, and I suppose for good reason. Jeff Waters is good at doing two things: writing really fucking good, intricate and smart thrash, and engaging in wonky experimentations and forays into what’s trending at the moment that either succeed against all odds or tank miserably (all of the band’s mid-2000’s work in a nutshell). So for me to be praising Feast is pretty ballsy.
But fuck me, I love Jeff Waters’ style, and there’s nothing like the hard-hitting nature of songs like “Deadlock” and “Fight The World”. The kind of shit that’s bound to alienate people will be songs like “No Surrender”, with its odd funk/80’s-pop/groove-metal hybrid clusterfuck, and the full frontal borderline hair-metal ballad in “Perfect Angel Eyes”. I don’t care though; it’s all done really fucking well. I also have a soft spot for David Patton’s vocals, as much as people have been giving him endless shit since he joined this band. His monotone shouts fit the current Annihilator sound pretty well, and his clean vocals have gotten astonishingly good.
I fucking love Annihilator, period.
And with that, I conclude this power hour. Now I’m going to go pass the fuck out from the typing and the listening marathon I just did.