Laceration – Remnants [Compilation] (2019) REVIEW

Few records fueled the last eighteen years of my own hyperbolic thrash metal obsession more than a shitty cassette rip of ‘Tortured Existence’, which turned out to be an old and nearly rotten Polish bootleg from Baron Music a label that infamously went from piracy to legit in the space of 2-3 years. Though the music was inspirational in and of itself, the ‘Necrolatry’ demo still sounds better to me, but that Demolition Hammer debut served as an introduction to the hunt for thrash metal obscurities. This was a true underground reaction to the lackluster creativity throughout Scandinavia and North American in a then thriving melodeath/thrash era that’d suggest Dew-Scented carried a sac half as full as even the worst Testament clone. Deprived of riff and probably just getting high and playing the guitar all day, there was such a thrill in the ‘old school’ form of thrash. There I formed a twisted world view defiant of the idea that any ‘old school’ sort of music was so outmoded and forgotten that only through volatile message boards and peer-to-peer piratical insanity could a copy be procured. It might appear disingenuous to essentially structure my point of view with a fervent, and relatively pointless, role as champion and gatekeeper for the old ways but that part of me is impossible to dissolve. These are the confessions of a serial internet old school thrash metal elitist. No, but seriously I wasn’t alone. The masses of inspired folks of all ages throughout the 2000’s would only increase their worship to the point of creating a viable, marketable reason to reissue and/or remaster the greats while preserving the finest records of the past. So, when I hear the old ways still inspiring todays best death and thrash metal bands it becomes culturally redeeming, as contrived as that feeling might seem from the outside looking in. Windsor, California death-thrashers Laceration are one of several groups that would arise as the death/thrash reissue, remaster, reform hype of the late 2000’s intensified and their earliest works would come just months before remasters of ‘Epidemic of Violence’ would finally see the light of day. Nostalgia for what was the peak of my old school obsession a decade ago hugely informs my enjoyment of groups like Laceration today.

‘Remnants’ isn’t Laceration‘s latest recording but a compilation of their 2006-2013 releases before the band took a five year hiatus. It does not include their 2008 demo as it would be largely redundant with the rest of the tracklist. These EPs do not appear in chronological order, likely for the sake of putting their best foot forward with the ‘Realms of the Unconscious’ (2010) EP. The band were never obsessed with originality rather than simply hitting the right sound and making sure the riffs dominated the experience. You’ll absolutely hear very direct apes from Demolition Hammer, Dark Angel, and Malevolent Creation circa 1991 throughout this EP in particular but the general sound and songwriting appear as a splicing of Epidemic‘s ‘Decameron’ and Death‘s ‘Leprosy’ with catchy songs and mildly hardcorish intensity devoid of the dive-bombing Slayerized shred or double-barrel precision of ‘Epidemic of Violence’. ‘Leave Scars’ is one of my favorite later thrash records and it almost feels like these guys have that record’s attack in their DNA in spite of several staff changes over the years; This attack is set aside in favor of some early Florida death metal influences on Laceration‘s 2012 split with Bay Area death metal band Tinnitus, where it seems had the project continued without the break they’d have headed in a ’92 death metal direction.

Those first two pieces, ‘Realms of the Unconscious’ and the split with Tinnitus, represent an exemplar take on death/thrash metal circa 1988-1991 where Laceration‘s ‘Consuming Reality’ (2009) demo only seemed to be piecing together the best riffs from their favorite death/thrash albums. I don’t personally mind this sort of formative demo, it didn’t offend me when five hundred bands borrowed Slayer riffs over the last thirty years and it doesn’t bother me when a heavy ass band gives constant nod to songs like “Pain’s Invention, Madness” (see: “Shadows of Existence”) etc. Hell, if Devastation can borrow from ‘Arise’ a few months later then why not Laceration a couple of decades later? It is a great demo and while I would have opened the compilation with it, I totally understand how it isn’t a good first look in terms of fidelity. Truth be told I think folks look like snotty hipsters who’d cry ‘clone’ when faced with a mild resemblance; This can typically be dispelled through removing the rose-colored lenses that come with distance from the classics. Listen to old metal.

Five years beyond Laceration is more of a pure death metal band with the addition of Trecelence guitarist Donnie Small and brutal death drummer Mike Simon (Cerebral Engorgement). Though their 2018 ‘Imitation’ demo is not included here, it is worth checking out in order to gauge their formative years against their current reality. I like the sort of ’92 Vader does ’91 Suffocation of today but, I found the entirety of ‘Remnants’ truly powerful as a set of inspired and ripping death thrash. The greats of brutal thrash metal and old school death metal are well worshiped on this compilation and it has been impossible to stop listening to since it first landed in my inbox. I have always been the type of fool who would alter a compilations tracklist on my own because leaving a chronology on repeat really demands that fidelity, capability, and songwriting follow a natural flow of quality. So I definitely put ‘Consuming Reality’ first and after about ten listens I isolated the first six songs on the original tracklist. Those first six songs are the most essential pieces from Laceration and well worth hearing if you’re a death/thrash fan who would welcome a newcomer to your archives of the Demolition Hammer, Gammacide, Num Skull, Epidemic and Devastation ilk. Highly recommended, with a heavy nostalgic bias. For preview I’d start with the harder hits of “Shadows of Existence” and “Bred to Consume” which I’d consider the best death metal track on the comp.

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Artist Laceration
Type Compilation
Released February 7, 2019
BUY & LISTEN on Unspeakable Axe Records’ Bandcamp! Follow Laceration on Facebook!
Genre Death/Thrash Metal

The surmounting carnage. 4.25/5.0

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