THRASH ‘TIL DEATH is a 50 week long set of features exploring the legends who crossed over between thrash and death metal between 1983-1993. The focus is primarily on under-served, unknown, and exemplar bands/releases. The selection is comprehensive but the numbering is not indicative of any type of rank or value: The order of appearance is arbitrarily chosen. E-mail me if you want to suggest any relevant bands!
The history of extreme metal in France cannot be told without mention of Villeneuve-d’Ascq death/thrashers Loudblast who rose from fun and fiery speed metal towards extreme thrash and death metal beyond. In taking in the total output of the band across nearly 35 years their overall progression could be seen as the Slayer of France in the sense that they reached a peak in the underground and exploded into a mainstream ‘legend’ status years later. I know that’ll seem like a stretch for folks who didn’t understand their post-1995 ventures into groove/death metal but wherever Stéphane Buriez takes the project Loudblast remain a respected fixture among French metal in general. Folks who have followed my writing since ~2011 or so have already read plenty of fawning over the progression of this band and in many ways the journey from ‘Behind the Dark Mist’ (1985) up to ‘Sublime Dementia’ (1993) is the seed of inspiration for this set of features.
|Title [Type/Year]||Behind the Dark Mist [Demo/1985]|
|Rating [3.5/5.0]||LISTEN on YouTube!|
The first demo from Loudblast might initially sound a bit like the sort of speed metal you’d expect out of France back in the day but even ADX hadn’t quite gotten this heavy yet. ‘Behind the Dark Mist’ appeared to take influence from both West Coast United States thrash and speed metal as well as their general surroundings. This recording is probably going to be most exciting for fans of dark and obscure speed metal demo tapes both for its obscured, slightly echoing vocals and heavier tracks like “Visions of Our Fate” that would later appear on the ‘Bazooka’ (1988) rehearsal and then their debut full-length ‘Sensorial Treatment’ (1989). I am quite secure in suggesting that Slayer‘s ‘Show No Mercy’ and ‘Haunting the Chapel’ (along with perhaps Metallica‘s debut) had some influence upon this recording and generally the first several years of Loudblast‘s career as death metal grew in phenomenon. I personally love the dark sound of this demo and the mildly intricate guitar work, none of ‘Behind the Dark Mist’ is cerebral and all of it seems to have aimed for pure thrashing energetics. This is, as far as I know, the only release to feature bassist Patrick Evrard. I’ve uploaded this demo to YouTube myself so that people could hear it without hitting up piracy blogs or whatever other nonsense, apologies for the skips during “Black Death” as this rip is quite old in my collection and been passed along online since 2003.
|Title [Type/Year]||Ultimate Violence [Demo/1986]|
|Rating [3.5/5.0]||LISTEN on YouTube!|
The second demo from the band would introduce bassist François Jamin who would stick around until 1999, his tone is immediately noticeable and appears with some general hardcore punk feeling and prog/tech thrash metal technique. ‘Ultimate Violence’ contains formative compositions that would essentially portend what ‘Sensorial Treatment’ would be, a death/thrash album that still contained pure speed metal elements. If you read D.O.D. aka Decibel of Death fanzine issues from ’86-’87 it was clear that the editor felt like Loudblast really sucked and in one interview with Outburst they both rag on the scene in general; The irony being that bands like Massacra and Loudblast went far while Outburst went fuckin’ nowhere! This is still a clunky recording and “Elm Street” feels a bit too much like “Motorbreath” in its earlier moments but “Eyes of Mayhem” should be of interest as they more or less blast through it Cryptic Slaughter style.
|Title [Type/Year]||Loudblast [Demo/1987]|
|Rating [4.0/5.0]||SEE: Licensed to Thrash (1988) Split w/Agressor|
This demo was made legendary through its inclusion on the ‘Licensed to Thrash’ split with Agressor, I’ve placed it here merely because I like the artwork for the tape which featured the nascent form of the logo that Loudblast would use from about 1989 forward.
|Title [Type/Year]||Licensed to Thrash [Split/1988]|
|Rating [4.25/5.0]||LISTEN on YouTube!|
The infamous ‘Licensed to Thrash’ split was my introduction to Loudblast as I was collecting the discography of Agressor, who would eventually inherit members from both Outburst and Loudblast as they continued on. The split compiles Agressor’s masterful ‘Satan’s Sodomy’ demo from 1987 and Loudblast‘s ‘Loudblast’ demo from that same year. Guitarists Nicolas Leclercq and Stéphane Buriez were clearly inspired by ‘Hell Awaits’ and Destruction‘s second album in terms of composition but, at this point Loudblast had managed to put their own spin on things though as their death metal prowess intensified drummer Joris Terrier began to feel too ‘old school speed metal’ for their intensifying darkness. I have such intense nostalgia for this split because it ignited and defined death/thrash for me at the time, it felt extreme but also stuck to traditional heavy metal in many respects and this was a revelation. For what it is worth ‘Satan’s Sodomy’ is a brilliant classic release in its own right as well.
|Title [Type/Year]||Bazooka [Demo/1988]|
|Rating [4.0/5.0]||LISTEN on YouTube!|
As spirited as their previous demo had been it would be this ‘Bazooka’ rehearsal tape where Loudblast made the transition into fully head-on death/thrash with a set of tracks that would all make it onto their debut full-length in some form. This is where Buriez began to literally find his distinct voice and showed some sharper guitar skills that were approaching above average speed and skill for the time. This rehearsal would be followed by two promotional demos that would allow the band to shop around until signed to Jungle Hop International, a small hardcore and thrash record label that folded in the early 90’s. As a huge fan of Loudblast‘s debut this is merely compelling provenance and the point where we first hear the band evolve intentionally towards death metal. I will consider uploading this full tape if there is any interest, e-mail me through the ‘Contact Me/FAQ’ section if you think the full upload would be of interest.
|Title [Type/Year]||Sensorial Treatment [Full-length/1989]|
|Rating [4.25/5.0]||LISTEN on YouTube!|
To truly enjoy ‘Sensorial Treatment’ it might make sense to purchase the 1999 remaster from XIII Bis Records. There is a strange volume drop between the first and second track here that is so jarring that I think this debut makes a bad first impression. If you can move beyond that small gripe this is one of the finest marriages of 80’s death metal and classic thrash metal to come from Europe. ‘Sensorial Treatment’ was the ‘Altars of Madness’ moment for Loudblast‘s region and should be counted among the greats with Messiah, Massacra, Pestilence, Morbid Angel, and such for bringing bold and memorable ideas to the not-yet fully defined death metal genre. They’d really been ramping up to this moment for four years and thankfully the performances were tight and the riffs flowed throughout. There are several signature tracks here that I have to mention with “Trepanning” being an obvious standout along with the Death influenced “Malignant Growth” (see: ‘Cross the Threshold’ EP a few years later) which would suggest where the band would go next unto the realm of semi-melodic death metal. “Visions of Our Fate” echoes the debut from No Return slightly, and as one of the bands oldest songs it shows how far Loudblast had come at this point. Though the band would receive enormous accolades for what they’d do next, I this is where death/thrash fandom should listen intently.
|Title [Type/Year]||In the Eyes of Death [Compilation/1991]|
|Rating [4.0/5.0]||‘In the Eyes of Death’ on Discogs|
More of a split album than a compilation, the first volume of Century Media‘s ‘In the Eyes of Death’ featured Unleashed, Asphyx, Tiamat, Morgoth, Grave, all at their very peak but also included tracks that’d appear on Loudblast‘s second full-length ‘Disincarnate’. If you’re familiar with each band the duo of Tiamat and Loudblast were perhaps the most adventurous and melodic of the group whereas the others would release career defining works that they’d largely never top. I wanted to write about this compilation to provide some perspective in terms of how big of a deal Loudblast were and that they should be remembered and celebrated just as much as those other iconic groups.
|Title [Type/Year]||Disincarnate [Full-length/1991]|
|Rating [4.75/5.0]||BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
This would be the ultimate step into death metal for Loudblast as ‘Disincarnate’ was not only a pure death metal record that’d been recorded with Scott Burns in Morrisound Studios but one of the first successful uses of melody within the death metal format. That isn’t to say that their death/thrash roots were ignored here, in fact the blend of death metal, thrash metal, and melody makes this one of my personal favorite death metal releases of all time. I’ve written about it incessantly for years wanting to reach more and more ears that might appreciate the genius therein (read the lyrics!) but the major hurdle (prior to remasters) was its muddy mix. Nothing against Burns or Fullersound‘s mastering but they both had a spotty history of mishandling great works in the formative years of death metals greater popularity, this record included. Though I cherish an original press of this record, it’d be Listenable Records that would ‘save’ and give due respect to this document for the masses around 2015. Anyhow, I’d written an in-depth review of this record last year for Retro Tuesdays so I’ll leave it at that.
|Title [Type/Year]||Cross the Threshold [EP/1993]|
|Rating [4.5/5.0]||BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
At this point Loudblast were a few years into their stature as a world class death metal band and though they’d hinted at aspects of melodic death metal guitar techniques previous it’d be the arrival of this ‘Cross the Threshold’ EP where they’d grab notoriety outside of the death metal underground. The new version of “Malignant Growth” is the perfect teaser for the oozing ‘Human’-esque fidelity of their third full-length ‘Sublime Dementia’ but ‘Disincarnate’ fully didn’t prepare folks for the unique sense of melody and guitar technique they’d develop at this point. I don’t know how often I use the word genius but it does apply to Loudblast in 1993 and if not for the explosion of bands like Sentenced and Dissection later that year I think this might’ve gotten more of the melodic limelight. “No Tears to Share” and “Cross the Threshold” are the newest material here but the cover of Slayer‘s “Mandatory Suicide” gives some insight into how they’ve woven classic thrash influences into their uniquely melodic guitar work. This also marks the arrival of overt sexual themes which are doubly unique for the sub-genre.
|Title [Type/Year]||Sublime Dementia [Full-length/1993]|
|Rating [4.5/5.0]||BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
The assured masterpiece from Loudblast that folks would reduce and malign over time for unclear reasons, ‘Sublime Dementia’ is often compared with Death though they share little more than a few moments of pacing and an understated emphasis on melody. It would seem the folks who’d jump onto the melodic death metal bandwagon 3-4 years later would skip over records like this for the sake of more visible acts like Carcass, Dissection, etc. though this is perhaps even more thoughtful and original in many respects. The intricacies of the dual rhythm guitar compositions were light years ahead of most any comparable work at the time and Loudblast managed to make a heavy, imposing record that avoided the saccharine or the cheaply melodramatic. To be fair this also received an odd production value from the Burns/Fuller crew and any pirated version of this record will absolutely sound terrible. It is worth it to get a new digital copy or buy one of the Listenable issues of the record. I do feel like this is still an unsung classic of melodic ‘old school’ death metal.
|Title [Type/Year]||Dementia Circle [VHS/1994]|
|Rating [3.5/5.0]||WATCH on YouTube!|
Although the sound quality isn’t incredible for this hour long video release from Loudblast at their (then) peak of popularity I felt it was important to share it. The band were/are known for their tight and strong live performances which can be witnessed here with material spanning their first three full-lengths. Keeping in perspective that this was a metal band that’d been at it for less than a decade they’d proven themselves as exceptional songwriters and musicians at a fevered pace from 1989-1993. I am still in awe of Loudblast‘s legacy even after nearly two decades of listening to their output and hope that this examination of their early discography enlightens new audience to their unique and often pioneering sounds. If you must get to heart of the issue I’d say you still should not skip any of the full-lengths!
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