At no point in my life thus far have I turned down the offer of a good half hour of brutal thrash but hey, I’ll be damned if the ‘Scream Bloody Gore’-meets-‘Tortured Existence’ radiation that glows off of Calgary, Alberta death/thrash metal band Detherous’ blood-spattered skin didn’t kinda have me considering sitting this one, ‘Hack to Death’, out. The way I see it, if you go through life trusting your “gut” after age thirty five or so you might turn into a bloated sack eating the same bullshit the tired lizard brain wants every day. Surprising nobody, no doubt this brief but fiery morbid thrasher won me over in a matter of minutes (around the middle of “Ridden”) once I’d dug into its ‘Swallowed in Black’ aggression and rasping 80’s death metal intensity. The bulk of the appeal here really is that it is a ‘genre’ release for die-hard brutal thrash fans and you’ll likely latch onto it because of its resemblance to the usual suspects in terms of death/thrash metal. ‘Hacked to Death’ is nonetheless a gloriously heavy point of inception for this young band that bodes well for the insanity they’ll bring in the future; Influences and performative intensity do admittedly outweigh any particularly original songwriting but this isn’t a point of mediocrity on my end solely because they’re already good at what they do.
The first couple tracks that fire up Detherous‘ debut full-length bring a mash-up of sorts that takes the angular hardcore (and Slayer) influenced brutal thrash of bands like Demolition Hammer and Epidemic circa 1992 and binds it with an appropriately thrashed-out death metal attack. Guitarist/vocalist Damon MacDonald‘s range jolts between involuntarily bursts of snarling thrash and early Schuldiner-isms that are initially reminiscent of Death‘s debut. The opener, “Smouldering Ashes” sets the right tone for the full listen but it is “Ridden” where my own ears perk up for its busted lead guitar intro and incredible bout of riffing that follows. If you’ve had a similar death/thrash self-education as I — your mind already began to point towards Solstice‘s self-titled debut with some anticipation but I’d say Detherous aren’t nearly as brutal as that record, at least with Alex Marquez‘ drumming in mind. What’d be a more relevant reference here is a 50/50 split between late 80’s horror thrashers like Rigor Mortis and Blood Feast but with the slick technicality of the early 90’s hangers-on such as Invocator‘s debut, or the obscure-but-similar ‘Pronunciation’ by Anomanes. The more familiar I’d become with ‘Hacked to Death’, and it didn’t take long, the more I appreciated the raw and crazed DIY ’89-’92 death/thrash feeling that I believe will appeal to a the sort of folks who go for Demolition Hammer as much as the do Death Strike.
Though it could bring up a sort of philosophical dilemma were you to take this sort of sub-genre entry extraordinarily serious I see ‘Hacked to Death’ as a ripping death/thrash metal headache that has the spirit of the sub-genre locked in and packed with riffs that translate into a solid thrash metal record. Is it innovative, original, mind-blowing, poignant, esoteric, or essential? No. But if we limit our scope of practice to 2019 and make a short list of brutal and mind-flaying death-thrashers I’d say Detherous demand a commendation for their contribution to the spectrum of death we’re so inundated with today. For the brutal thrash addict and the death/thrash collector this is the ‘right stuff’ and the axe-chopped geezer head on the bloody cover should speak to those sensibilities immediately. The riffs hit, the vocal performance is spot on, and the pacing offers a balanced study of the ‘classic’ death/thrash full-length condensed into a succinct as possible form. Where I ding the full listen comes with the less distinct second half and some mushy/awkward soloing along the way. Moderately high recommendation. For preview purposes I’d suggest the Disciples of Power-esque swells and ‘Seasons in the Abyss’ drawl of “Practitioners of Pain” alongside the Florida death metal infused “Ridden” as the strongest back-to-back hits along the way.
Surveying the slaughtered remains. 3.75/5.0
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