Havok – Darkest Hour – Cephalic Carnage – Harlott: Live at Camden Underworld, London

 

Thrash has long been perfected on record. Indeed, it’s hard to justify owning many Thrash records made post-Rust in Peace. Live, however, is a different beast entirely. Continue reading

Harlott – Extinction

Are you a fan of Eighties Bay Area Thrash? Then may I introduce you to a noisy bunch of Australians called Harlott. Formed in 2006 they are a thrash metal band, with an obvious liking for Testament and Slayer, who have just released their third album Extinction (Metal Blade). Continue reading

Annihilator – Archer – Harlott: Live at 02 Academy Islington

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They may have never quite made it to the same level as Metallica, Megadeth et al but Canada’s Annihilator represent all that is good about thrash metal. They’ve been (relatively) consistent without selling out, they play it fast and loud, and founder Jeff Waters seriously knows how to shred.

Opening act Harlott are an Australian outfit cut from the same cloth as many other thrash-revivalists. Recently signed to Metal Blade, they’re more on the Exodus/Kreator end of the spectrum; fast and relentlessly rough-as-a-dogs-arse, with a penchant for Hanneman-inspired solos and the occasional guitar harmonies. They’re a tight unit with an engaging frontman when between songs, but once the music starts they just get their head down and rock.

California’s Archer, however, are more blessed with more hair than quality. The Californian power trio put a lot more effort towards audience participation than the previous band, but the lack of quality songs really let them down. They put plenty of energy into their performance, but their mix of recycled NWOBHM riffs and occasional squealing solo fail to get the blood pumping, especially after such an aggressive opener. A half-decent cover of Megadeth’s ‘Tornado of Souls’ was about as good as things get.

Despite losing longtime musical partner Dave Padden, Annihilator seem stronger than ever. The band’s musical ability and back catalogue quality was never been in question, so it was just a case whether Waters could find a decent replacement guitarist and step up to the plate himself vocally. But fans could rest easy. Being the sole vocalist allows Waters to take centre stage and run the whole show. Clearly enjoying himself, he plays with a smile on his face, does a more than decent job on the mic and has an easy patter with the (admittedly adoring) audience. New additions Rich Hinks on bass and Aaron Homma on guitars also look like they’re having fun on their maiden tour and seem right at home.

2015’s tour may be to promote new album Suicide Society (UDR) but Waters & Co. are wise enough to give the people what they want; old school thrashers. The band get the triple whammy of new single ‘Snap’, the title track and Metallica-esque ‘Creeping Again’ out the way early on, leaving plenty of time for the 80s classics and some lesser heard gems from the band’s darker days.

There’s a fair few tracks taken from the Waters-fronted era (1995-1997); the high-octane joy of ‘King of the Kill’ and ‘Refresh the Demon’ make an appearance, along with Remains’ ‘Tricks and Traps’ and the one-two of ‘Bliss/Second to None’. Waters basically ran the band solo during this period, but the songs were still straight-ahead thrashers. It seems the departure of Padden means there’s no room for more recent numbers from Metal, Feast or 2010’s self-titled effort.

It’s no surprise that it’s the early classics that get the audience most excited though. Mosh pits and singalongs break out during the slow aggression of ‘Set the World on Fire’, the pure shred of ‘W.T.Y.D’ and the creeping ‘Alison Hell’. There’s even time for a drum solo and a medley of food-based songs in ‘Chicken and Corn’ and ‘Kraf Dinner’.

2015 might be a new Annihilator, but they still know how to shred.

 

DAN SWINHOE

Harlott – Proliferation

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Do you ever have those moods where absolutely, positively nothing else will do but some metal up your ass? Of course you do – you wouldn’t be here otherwise would you? Well next time the calling is upon you, treat your tympanics to a tickle from Proliferation (Metal Blade) by Harlott. It’s the finding of gems like this that make me glad to be a reviewer.

Hailing from the land of shite beer and Bogans where absolutely everything wants to fucking kill you [he means Australia – UK Ed], these boys are clearly patriotic crusaders.

Equal parts Megadeth, Slayer, Annihilator and Darkane, this album is a proper, bruising, neck-destroying slab of old school trad thrash. As such, it can be a little derivative and predictable at times, but it’s all played with so much heart, pace and vigour that you can’t help but love it. Let’s face it – we don’t listen to thrash for odysseys of self-discovery. If you like your thrash, go see them on their tour with Annihilator. The crowd at those shows is going to look like a supercharged wind farm.

And that’s all there is to it really – there’s little point in going though track by track, as I’d be saying the same things about each one: Fast, heavy, tight, meaty, shouty slices of old school thrash excellence.

That said, we all have our favourites, and mine are ‘Proliferation’, ‘Systematic Retribution’ (it kind of reminds me of Mary Beats Jane in places), ‘Restless’, ‘The Fading Light’ (Annihilatortastic), ‘Civil Unrest’ and ‘Legion’ (We Are Harlott!).

This album is designed to turn a crowd into a sweat – and lager – drenched maelstrom of moshing, windmilling, sky punching and burst vocal chords.

In other words, it’s a fackin’ beaut, mate.

Steve Hughes will be proud.

 

8.0/10

PHILIP PAGE