Formed in 2010, Edinburgh thrashers Black Talon follow up their 2015 debut Endless Realities (Wasted State Records) with independently released five-track EP Existential. Sounding like a modern Scottish version of the 1980s Bay Area, this short release is replete with riffs and melodies similar to the likes of Forbidden, Testament and Dark Angel with vocals owing a debt to Vio-Lence and UK thrashmonkeys Acid Reign. Continue reading
In this edition of our Reviews Round-Up, our fearless Editor Steve Tovey takes on some new and recently released albums to see if they pass the smell test.
In the thirty-two years since the savage double gut-punch of Reign In Blood (DefJam) and Darkness Descends (Combat), the popularity and aesthetic of Thrash Metal has gone on an undulating journey, from the progressive convolutions of …And Justice For All (Vertigo), through the refining and streamlining of a Persistence of Time (Island), to a decade in the wasteland where ideas and delivery effectively choked in the dust of a seemingly redundant style. Resurrection was found in the party Thrash rebirth headed by the likes of Municipal Waste, and then the more fundamental stylings of Evile and the like. But throughout it all, the Metal underground never lost sight of the devastation that 1986 brutality – the extreme edge of Thrash espoused by Dark Angel, Kreator and Sodom – and the effectiveness of vicious riffing, feral vocals and a relentless battery brings, it’s just that nowadays it’s possible to bring the noise to a wider audience.
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. Continue reading
My brain is still trying to process that Nightmare Logic is only Power Trip’s second full length album. While there have been splits and EPs before and after their strong debut, Manifest Decimation (both Southern Lord), the bite and urgency on Nightmare Logic would suggest a more aged group of musicians Continue reading
This past year was a huge one for music with so many bands releasing new material it was hard to keep up, even for us here at Ghost Cult. So many legacy bands, modern classic acts, and up and comers dropped new music this year, some may wish they had waited until 2017 to drop it like it’s hot. Without further ado, here are our picks for the new tunes you need in your life in 2017. Continue reading
Submitted for your approval, the year is 1991. Already a bang up year for monumental rock and metal releases, Soundgarden releases Badmotorfinger on the now defunct A&M records sets the heavy music world on its ear. Sure in the climate where Nirvana’s Nevermind was climbing the charts and Metallica’s “Black Album” was already a legit hit too. Residing right in the middle, just as the “Seattle” craze was capturing people wad Soundgarden. That Badmotorfinger would go on to be the defining moment in their career wasn’t a surprise considering their history.
Separating a cynical copy-cat retro band from one who are reproducing the sounds and styles they deeply and passionately love can be a difficult task – the former approach smacks of creative redundancy, whereas the latter shows a celebration of a style and a desire to add to the legacy. Biotoxic Warfare, you’ll no doubt be pleased to hear, fall resoundingly into the second of those categories, with their joyous revisit of dark thrash on their debut full length, Lobotomized (Static Tension).
There are no prizes for guessing the Greek thrashers main influence (from ‘Chemical…’ to Biotoxic Warfare in, oh, 0.666 moves), but when they deliver the big riffs, with intricate attention to detail, such as the cuts to one guitar to bridge a section, or when to hit the Dave Lombardo double-bass drum groove, it’s easy to think they have sat down and thought to themselves “Slayer have been disappointing for twenty years, let’s write the album we wish they’d made after Seasons In The Abyss” (DefJam).
Indeed, speaking the Slaytanic ones, the album kicks off with the ‘Criminially Insane’ drum beat, though, boo, sadly we don’t get ‘Criminally Insane’. What we do get is a 3 minute intro that lets us know the band aren’t as silly as their throwback name implies, touching on some grade A Chuck Schuldiner riffing and Chris Poland lead phrasing.
The album ladles dark thrash in big servings, and Biotoxic Warfare provide aggressive choppy riffing, spiralling from Dark Angel to Kreator to (pre-Roots, natch) Sepultura (‘Baptised In Blood & Greed’ in particular showing some well-crafted Beneath The Remains (both Roadrunner) worship, before adding some cold Dissection bite in the form of ‘Dysphoric Reality’, which also possesses some big chugs, a big bridging groove, and some di Giorgio esque bass plunking cutting through.
When thrash made its throwback comeback with a plethora of idiots in radioactive shorts, it was easy to overlook the valid and vital contribution of the good hard, chunky, aggressive and serious mid-to-late 80’s thrash that Biotoxic Warfare have lovingly and fervently recreated, and rather than apeing a bygone genre, have added to in a most febrile and welcome fashion.
Coming from the melodic end of thrash, and with eight high-topped feet planted in speed metal, Helsinki’s Ranger impress with their (rising) force, and don’t mistake the proliferation of melody for any indication that there is to be any let up in intensity or intent. With nods to pre-pirate Running Wild, and ploughing a similar furrow to Enforcer, albeit with a less rocky overtone and more of a heads-down-see-you-at-the-end vibe, Where Evil Dwells (Spinefarm) may be the band’s debut full-length, but this is an album forged in furnaces that have been burning for 35 years.
Using Dark Angel’s Darkness Descends (Combat) as a template (7 songs, sub 40 minutes, track 6 being a lengthy 8 minute plus thrashepic, track one being a lesson in extended thrash and the second longest track) is not the worst prototype any band could use, and musically the band pull from the melting pot some nice Di’anno era Maiden twin leads, especially in ‘Defcon1’, amongst the thrashing Sodom-y. Elsewhere there are enough variance of thrash and speed metal and melodic refrains to maintain the interest; ‘Phantom Soldier’ along with a nice Eastern-tinged solo and good movement between solid chugging, and riffing and all out thrashing, borrows very heavily from Kill ‘em All (Megaforce) and in particular ‘Seek & Destroy’ (as well as lifting more than a lyric from ‘Disposable Heroes’), while closer ‘Storm of Power’ is a relentless 3 minute thrash battery to bring things home. Dimi Pontiac provides yelps and squawks as if possessed at random intervals by John Connolly – a “thing” that bands do that personally grates a touch, but are a staple trope of the speed metal oeuvre – but otherwise delivers with confidence, reminiscent of So Far, So Good… So What (Capitol) era Dave Mustaine, sneer and all.
All in, though, a very solid first outing for Ranger that will do more than satisfy those whose tastes are this way inclined. It is nothing new, but here’s where I have to leave my retro-hang ups at the door and buckle my bullet belt on instead, cos it doesn’t just do what it says on the tin. Ranger, with their melodic breaks and mid-tempo deviations, do go some way to standing out and honing their own identity.
And who can argue with a hand-drawn logo and an album cover with big fucking skulls on it!