Although they arrived nearly a decade after modern thrash metal’s most celebrated darlings St. Louis, Missouri blackened progressive thrash corps Black Fast were picked up alongside the craze surrounding forward-thinking entries from stalwarts Revocation, Vektor and Skeletonwitch. They stood out from a crowd of ‘Black Future’ influenced pretenders with a Hexen-like approach that took notes from progressive death metal and black metal alike on their self-titled EP in 2011. Intricacy laden yet still ‘street’ enough to invoke the bouncing, cartoonish flair of groups like Municipal Waste, Black Fast would not easily escape comparisons to early Vektor even when their compatriots were two albums distanced from said debut. There is no great need to peel ‘Starving Out the Light’ from any influence because it still holds up as a guitar album and a decent example of technical extreme metal influence applied to traditional speed metal structures. From there Black Fast would attempt to embrace their blackening for the sake of distinction, though they wouldn’t arrive successfully until ‘Spectre of Ruin’.
With a combination of technical thrash metal and the incense of melodic black metal drifting into my ear-holes you’d think I’d be in hog heaven but ‘Terms of Surrender’ (2015) suffered from a strange choice of completely stripping out variation in drum patterns. It was brain rattling in a bad way. No matter how much I wanted Black Fast to be the antidote to Skeletonwitch‘s dull ‘Serpents Unleashed’, their second album was actually inferior to ‘Starving Out the Weak’. Mind you this is coming from a creepily dedicated tech/prog-thrash apologist. Interestingly enough both Skeletonwitch and Black Fast return in 2018, a few weeks apart and each a few years wiser, fully embracing divergent fluidic junctions between black metal and thrash metal.
It wouldn’t have taken much to tip the scales from “Meh” to “Sure, thumbs up.” in terms of Black Fast‘s sound as they’ve already shown themselves capable of moderately technical riff craft and they’re a recommendable live experience. What was missing was any sort of personality that diverged from the relative blandness of their first two full-lengths. Instead of returning to the Death influenced mulling of their first EP the intensified weaving-in of melodic black metal riffs drives ‘Spectre of Ruin’ over the edge with a satisfying amount of existential dread a la ‘Far Away From the Sun’. This new found pair of blackened wings only swoops in -just- often enough to pick up a samey thrash metal album when the stylistic tunnel vision begins to set in. The evolution of Black Fast continues to be promising and the result is well worth the time invested.
If you threw a hissy fit about the lack of varietal drumming on ‘Terms of Surrender’ only halfway relax your body holes because he’s still not Lombardo. This is not, personally speaking, a hugely important aspect of record’s sound but if structural repetition is a point of great irritation, take note. Hell, if you’re here for the prog and ‘technical’ aspects of thrash ‘Spectre of Ruin’ is not necessarily going to dazzle you with complexities. In fact “Silhouette Usurper”, “Temple of Leviathan” and the first single “Husk” prefer to tug at glorious void offered by melodic black metal love rather than anything else. So put down your physics homework and invoke the Black Dragon of Chaos instead this time around.
In taking my time to suckle upon Black Fast‘s teat unfortunately only around half of the songs remained steadfastly secured and the combination of “Silhouette Usurper” and “Scarecrow and Spectre” is all that really stuck to my ribs. Though I was on both sides of the fence with ‘Spectre of Ruin’ I ultimately have to give some positive appraisal of it’s stylistic changes and successful points of black metal integration. When it works it really works well and although some parts drag, the listen is a comfortably perpetual ride forward that plays well on repeat.
|Released||July 13, 2018|
|Listen on Spotify||Follow Black Fast on Facebook|
|Genre||Technical Thrash Metal,
Melodic Black Metal
Rumors spoken in tongues. 3.25/5.0
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