When presented with the age old question of which bands would make up a second “Big Four” (and after much yawning, eye-rolling and muttering “Oh God, not this again”), it’s safe to say that a large majority of Thrash fans would include Kreator somewhere on their lists. Formed in Essen, Germany in 1982, the band went through a series of name changes (Metal Militia, Tyrant, and Tormentor) before finally settling on the moniker which has seen them become not only one of the most unrelentingly vicious acts on the scene, but also one of the most consistent.Continue reading
Who loves Metallica? Eradikator love Metallica! The Birmingham, UK thrash quartet take no shame in paying tribute to James Hetfield & Co. on their new album, Edge of Humanity (Tribunal/Divebomb).
The Brummies’ second album, Edge of Humanity has strong overtones of Master of Puppets (Vertigo) with the occasional Annihilator-esque injection of melody and a penchant for flamboyant solos. Anyone who followed Trivium circa The Crusade (Roadrunner) will know be in familiar territory.
Opener ‘Mesmerised’ could easily be mistaken for a ‘Battery’/’Whiplash’ mashup, ‘Man Behind the Mask’ has a ‘Shortest Straw’-meets-Testament vibe, while ‘Astral Body’ is probably the highlight; catchy, aggressive and generous with the guitar histrionics. It’s fast, aggressive, and straight to the point; and thanks to vocalist/bassist Pat Cox’s bark the vocals are easy to sing along to.
These guys are clearly skilled musicians and are busting at the seams with quality riffs and solos – closing instrumental track ‘Kairos Passing’ makes that abundantly clear – but are occasionally found lacking on the song writing. Too often the band lock into a mid-tempo chug that makes a lot of the songs sound the same – the title track, ‘Fortress Unknown’ and ‘Seasons of Rage’ are all largely interchangeable.
They’re not subtle about who their influences are, but Eradikator know good thrash metal. If you like the old classics from the Big 4 and others, there’s little really to fault here. And UK thrash has always been second fiddle to the Bay Area (aside from Xentrix, Sabbat and Onslaught, there’s been very little to shout about), so it’s nice to see some home-grown talent making a good stab at things.
To celebrate the upcoming release of dark, progressive thrash opus Dormant Heart (Nuclear Blast) Josh Middleton of Sylosis spoke of his love of Thrash, including his Top 5 (non-Big 4) Thrash albums…
In no particular order (except the first one, apparently):
SEPULTURA ‘Arise’ (Roadrunner)
After upping the ante in a serious way with the seminal Beneath The Remains Max Cavalera and crew cemented their place in the annals with one of the heaviest and one of the best slabs of thrash known to man, beast or beyond. Produced by the legendary Scott Burns at Morrisound, Brazil’s greatest musical export refined their delivery while maintaining the aggression, with an album chock full of anthems from ‘Dead Embryonic Cells’ and its neck-snapping groove, to the epic ‘Desperate Cry’ and the crunching pace of closer ‘Infected Voice’, while the opening title track boasts one of the greatest heavy riffs of the last forty years and is a bone-fide extreme anthem. A genuine Death/Thrash classic.
VIO-LENCE ‘Oppressing The Masses’ (Megaforce)
There’s a certain writing team currently topping the metal charts (and coming in third in Ghost Cult‘s Albums of the Year 2014), a writing team that includes Messrs Philip Demmell and Robert Flynn. Back in 1990, Machine Head‘s creative force were cutting not just their teeth, but an album of jagged thrash intent with no lack of cerebral content, from stomping tour-de-force ‘I, Profit’ to closing title-track, more of a traditional thrasher operating in the Overkill ball park, replete with Sean Killian‘s Blitz-deranged vocals.
FORBIDDEN ‘Twisted Into Form’ (Combat/Relativity)
Another band that operated as a stepping stone for some of its’ members, with drummer Paul Bostaph to move on to Slayer and Testament and highly-regarded guitar-wizard Tim Calvert to later join Nevermore for their defining album Dreaming Neon Black (Century Media). Twisted Into Form was the San Franciscan’s second opus, and with Calvert joining (at the expense of Glen Alvelias, who himself was later to also join Testament), saw a more melodic, technical and progressive approach to the debut.
HEATHEN ‘Victim of Deception’ (Roadrunner)
Another early 90’s great, “This is pretty much …And Justice For All Part 2!” states Middleton. Along with the Vio-lence and Forbidden selections, this is another sophomore album that saw a band at the top of its game really define their sound second time around. Widely regarded as one of the most technical thrash albums, Victim… is renowned for its many complex structures, time changes and guitar work, retaining little of the NWOBHM influence exhibited on their debut. Coming in at over an hour, with the majority of its tracks over six minutes in length, Heathen made a statement that thrash could be complicated and could be progressive.
TESTAMENT ‘First Strike Still Deadly’ (Spitfire)
“I haven’t had any Testament yet… and, you know what, I know it’s a cop out, but I really enjoy First Strike Still Deadly. I know it’s effectively a best of, but I like it.”
Featuring guest appearances from original vocalist/Exodus screamer Steve “Zetro” Sousa and Joey Tempesta, who had sat on the drum stool at various points in Testament’s career, as well as Alex Skolnick returning for the first time since 1992’s The Ritual, this compilation of re-recordings was Steve Di Giorgio‘s last with the band. Comprising of tracks from their classic first two albums, The Legacy and The New Order (Atlantic/Megaforce) and old demo track ‘Reign of Terror’, this was the start of the re-recording trend and has been widely panned by critics, which seems harsh as the tracks are, still, incredible. Besides, at least one person (Mr Middleton) likes it… Here at Ghost Cult we support First Strike… but would recommend getting hold of the first two Testament albums, if you don’t already own them. You can pick up pretty much every Testament release while you’re at it, too…
Words by STEVE TOVEY