I think it’s fair to say that Britain does not have the greatest depth of pedigree when it comes to Thrash. While there have been a couple of notable exceptions, other than the unassailable Sabbat, Xentrix (one of my favourite bands as a teen) are still, probably, the first name on anyone’s mind when asked to discuss said niche market. Twenty years after Preston’s finest slipped quietly into the ether and, an Evile or Savage Messiah aside, very little has changed in that regards.
And so, armed with an (as always superbly) Russ Russell produced sophomore effort, Shrapnel, on the back of a successful crowdfunding campaign, seek to make their mark and change that state of affairs with the relentless ruckus that is Raised On Decay (Candlelight/Spinefarm). Releasing on the back of a triumphant, vicious and notable Bloodstock success is never a bad thing, with Shrapnel being one of the acts I was furiously texting Messrs Price and Alcock during -“Are you in the fucking tent? Shrapnel are on fucking fire!” (or words to that effect) flew from my fat fingers.
But making an impact live and being able to produce the goods on record are two different things, and it’s a test that, while Shrapnel pass, it’s not quite with the flying colours one may have hoped for. If that sounds a diss, instead consider it more as a ringing endorsement for the live version of this Thrash beast.
For Raised In Decay is Thrash most feral. Machine-like precision in the engine room, a scything violent resolve throughout all mixed with an early Kreator heads-down-mauling, there is aggressive intent on every track. The first three songs pummel in a frenzy of Dark Angellic fury, before ‘Jester’ is the first real highlight, chunky and reminiscent of Testament, not just due to the impressive and outstanding Alex Skolnickesque leadwork. ‘Pariah’ showcases a bleedthrough of Death Metal influence, while ‘Carved From Above’ and the massive stomp of ‘Choir Of Wolves’ join the quartet of standouts.
No remorse, no repent, Shrapnel don’t care what I meant when I say Raised On Decay is a quality body of work that, while housing a few real diamonds in the riff-rough, would benefit with a little more colour and diversity, not in terms of style just in terms of making sure each of the songs distinguish themselves more from their compadres. And if they are able to inject a little more of the sheer joy and energy displayed in the riotous (and bloody-nosedely brilliant) closing cover of ‘The Antichrist’ (Slayer), next time around we could well have some real contenders to the UK Thrash championship.