With the farce of Yugoslavia dissolving through the tumult of war at the end of the 1980’s much of the potential thrash metal history of the Serbo-Croatian world would die under the drag of the iron curtain’s exit and no great recovery was truly felt until about 1993. From Hella to Bloodbath, Stentor and beyond classics were few and far between for the country but eventually Belgrade more or less began to feel like the metal capitol of Serbia. Thankfully the tradition of that humble post-communist wave lives on post-millennium with many fantastic underground bands such as Kobold, who I’d written about a bit last year, and the semi-related heavy/thrash metallers Prisoner. Having formed in 2011 as Grob, the band would change their name to Prisoner for their debut EP ‘The Upcoming Devastation’ (2014). Rooted in a love of traditional thrash and heavy metal ‘See the Scars’ (2015) was a fine debut from the band that would quickly set the bar high for their contemporaries of the time.
Though the line-up has shifted drastically since the release of their debut full-length the main force of Mateja Cvetičanin’s (also of Merciful Angel) guitar work still drives Prisoner‘s precision melodic thrash metal sound, as he’s thankfully recovered from injuries to his hand. Representing a new refinement, and a new beginning, this self-titled EP finds the bands line-up newly filled out with the vocalist from sci-fi power metal band Eternity and the drummer from black/thrashers Terrörhammer. Dalibor Géczy is most certainly a power/heavy metal vocalist and no doubt he brings a strong melodic sense on ‘Prisoner’ while singing exclusively in Serbian. Though the cadence of the language is complex, and a bit alien to the uninitiated, I think it adds a ton of character to Prisoner‘s sound. Géczy‘s presence does feel influenced by modern power metal so this release does veer beyond melodic thrash metal’s confines at times (see: “Kosmar”). Likewise “Izgledala je malo cudno u kaputu zutom krojenom bez veze” feels more like a cover of a mid 70’s rock song than a thrasher but I think the strong sense of melody is all the more interesting. Sharp and professional work, but what about the riffs?
Fair enough if you are here for the pure thrash stuff and the opener “Arhitekta novog sveta” should hit the right spot. Hints of modern progressive thrash adorn what is a strong melodic thrash number reminding me of Artillery or even Acid Storm at times. That’ll be the highlight if you’re looking for pure thrash but I think the more melodic tracks on the album will ultimately worm their way into your ears. I believe this is a great step into new and exciting things for Prisoner and although it might be a big shock for folks who loved the straight-forward thrash of ‘See the Scars’. I think this fits into a really interesting niche for classic thrash/heavy metal fandom and I’d give it a moderate recommendation. For preview I’d say at the very least give “Arhitekta novog sveta” a chance and keep an open mind for the rest.
Novog sveta. 3.5/5.0
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