Conceived in as Warthorn in 1986 and active as Disciples of Power from 1987 until 2003 this Alberta, Canada death/thrash metal band burst from the aethyr resplendent with a talent for technical thrash metal compositions and a keen sense of dynamics beyond most greater known bands of the era. On this first full-length wrangle a set of influences that arrives at the junction between the shark-attack precision of Coroner, the Voivod influenced rally of Obliveon, and the riff-crammed attack of Dark Angel and do so with their own righteous sense of melody. ‘Powertrap’ is a masterful lesson in frantic and technical composition that would prime their path towards some of the most engrossing technical/progressive death metal of the early 90’s.
The technical guitar work and vocals of Hart Bachmeir are really at the heart of what makes Disciples of Power stand out but none of it would work so well if he hadn’t had such a tight chemistry with drummer Dean Reif (Warmarch). Reif was basically doubly impressive with each successive release and although some of the material here is thrash standard he breaks out some a wide range of tricks in unison with Bachmeir throughout. Much of what you hear on the thrash leaning riffs of ‘Powertrap’ was developed with Maurice Williams who could also be heard on the band’s second and third demos previous to the full-length, though it seems as the band wanted to work towards more complex and death metal style Bachmeir/Reif would take over all of the songwriting and performances thereafter. I wouldn’t say that the technical thrash metal side of ‘Powertrap’ was wildly different from what tech-thrashers in Europe were doing at the time, though, and what sets it apart is in the performances, the death metal undercurrents, and the merciless Infernäl Mäjesty-like attack of it all.
There is a highly twisted level of intricacy in the guitar work that should briefly warm up fans of Watchtower but also a hardcore punk-ish roughness (as if written in a panic) that should remind folks of Vektor‘s ‘Black Future’ as well as Coroner‘s second album. Bachmeir‘s vocals are typically a source of irritation for death metal fans on later albums but here he shows a great range of expression while staying more or less within the realm of late 80’s thrash metal, narrowly avoiding death metal growls. I really appreciate the dance between classic thrash, death/thrashing, and even some crossover thrash tracks sometimes all of this on one track (“Bitch of Doom”.)
Very few projects manage the sort of progression and distinct sound as Disciples of Power did in their first ten years across four full-lengths. ‘Powertrap’ kicks off that impressive run with what I consider to be one of the best classic thrash albums ever released and I think it holds the musical space between ‘Control and Resistance’, ‘Punishment for Decadence’ and ‘Beneath the Remains’ honorably. 2018 is a crazy frickin’ age to be a metal lover because when I discovered this band twelve years ago I had to spend $30-50 each to track down Disciples of Power and today you can just hop over to Bandcamp and experience everything they ever released free. Don’t skip “Shades of Grey” but you should be completely sold by the end of the title track.
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Slave to no one. 4.5/5.0
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