Vladimir, Russia based progressive thrash metal band КГБ (Комите́т Госуда́рственной Безопа́сности) aka KGB represent the tip of a slow-melting mountainous iceberg in terms of lost (but not forgotten) gems of Russia’s long persisting, inspirational heavy metal ambition. From the still standing evolution of speed metal titans like Железный Поток and Коррозия Металла [Korrozia Metalla] to the long-dead progressive stylings of Shah and Аспид [Aspid] there are rough and resilient classics piled up in the collections of folks who can still remember the fall of the Iron Curtain. KGB represented a step within, and then beyond the status quo of progressive and technical thrash metal movement within eastern Europe of the late 80’s; Where so many bands began to focus on the popularity of Sepultura‘s groove ambitions and the Metallica-imitation that popular German thrash became bloated with, a recusal of forms arose with an incredible wave of progressive approaches to thrash metal as the decade ended.
The earliest ambitions of KGB came with great inspiration from what some might consider the kings of progressive/technical thrash metal Coroner, Destruction, and perhaps Mekong Delta. This is obvious enough in hindsight, and can easily outshine their relation to other Russian acts such as the increasingly progressive Shah. None of this could be discerned from KGB‘s debut full-length ‘Lost in the Atmosphere’ (1997), a nice riff on Psychotic Waltz and Thought Industry sounds, but it becomes all the more clear when listening to their ‘Смертью Восставший’ (1989) demo. Yes, as with Aspid there is an underlying ‘And Justice For All’ sized take on big, stomping thrash metal grooves (see: the 12 minute “Tanki”) but KGB would venture into death/thrash territory fearlessly as they proceeded to riff their way through nearly 90 minutes of material on this demo. It is a mountain of riffs and true creative excess made all the more inaccessible for its boombox recorded sound. ‘Смертью Восставший’ is a fantastical feat for its quality as KGB‘s refined prog-metal ideas screech from a trebly, gateless and noisy rehearsal room recording. As challenging as the recording quality might be for some prog or technical thrash metal fans it will prove worth the headache if you’re able to acclimate to the raw mix.
First and foremost I appreciate the chance to get a physical copy of a thrash oddity that’d been such a hidden relic of Russian extreme metal. I think the ‘weird’ side of thrash metal is ultimately the most enduring aspect of long-term sub-genre fandom and no doubt 81 minutes of this band basically writing the ‘Time Does Not Heal’ of progressive thrash and falling off the face of the Earth for eight years after qualifies. I do think this set of songs, the full breadth of composition, would be even more relevant and interesting today as a full album. The recording itself is not timeless but, I do think the material had incredible potential even for 1992. Whatever kept KGB from continuing with this sound is a true shame. It all comes in a slightly thorny package but ‘Смертью Восставший’ should convince ‘old school’ thrash heads of its worth by sheer attrition. This reissue comes with a very high recommendation, I suppose with the understanding that I am perhaps the perfect demographic for KGB‘s demo as a huge fan of pre-1995 technical/progressive forms of thrash metal as well as the death/thrash influences that KGB balances with such reverence. It may only seem relevant to thrash collectors and Russian thrash obsessives but it is no less of a great piece of music, a truly impressive fossil.
Celebrations of madness. 4.25/5.0
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