al-Khwārizmī’s shrewdness would explain (or, equate) the disinclined irrational states of quantity and expression within nature beyond the capabilities of fractalized geometry for the sake of conveying the great balance of the universe itself; However distant the rudiments of algebraic applications to matter and perceived physical ‘chaos of forms’ was, the point had been made and then eternally lost within the athletic sport of mathematics itself. Functional mathematical theory with purpose is quickly dead in an unfailing percentage of peoples minds who are biologically attuned elsewhere but, with some clearer unpretentious description the point can be made that the raw language of math is the life code for an excessively thriving species and the plain self-destruct sequence for an ever-crowded humanity all the same. The revelation of a self-defeating system isn’t so dramatically deep, nor perfectly accurate as an equation might suggest, yet the ultimate ‘message’ of algebra persists today less as a philosophical rendering of natural forms and more a non-descriptive documentation of mutation events. This ‘reunion of broken limbs’ speaks well to the increasingly ambitious ‘old school’ thrash metal of Lausanne, Switzerland quartet Algebra who after a five year silence reach for increasingly cerebral tides. Exploration of the ‘self’ as a unit freed by an ego death beyond 2014’s ‘Feed the Ego’ seeks cumulative examination of the biggest picture down to the smallest detail– With perspective achieved across an hour of thrash metal, a beratement of humanity’s arrogant failures on ‘Pulse?’ highlights the struggle between the feigned enlightenment of technological ‘progress’ and the damnation of mankind by way of the data collected along the way.
Formed in 2007 with a clear aim towards mid-to-late 80’s thrash metal history the earliest releases from Algebra would develop with some style and the ‘class’ of thinking man’s Bay Area infused thrash circa ’88 in mind. Skill and concept wouldn’t allow the band to truly strike upon the intended iron until their second full-length, the aforementioned ‘Feed the Ego’ (2014), the years since find the project reaching an incredible new height and from every angle. It wouldn’t be a stretch to point towards Heathen or Forbidden (with a hint of Megadeth) as a general reference for what Algebra had done up until 2014 or so, I’d probably go a bit deeper towards Mezzrow‘s ‘Then Came the Killing’ and Devastation‘s ‘Signs of Life’ at some point but both the technical thrash metal angularity and heavier late 80’s rip of post-‘Beneath the Remains’ thrash are deeper ingrained into ‘Pulse?’ nowadays. Guitar compositions are on par with classics from Target (‘Master Project Genesis’) and Stone (‘No Anesthesia!’) or, a more complete comparison would be Sacrosanct‘s ‘Truth is-What is’ with maybe a hint of aggression by way of Obliveon‘s ‘Nemesis’ when things speed up. No doubt their influences are less specific than my own suggested genetic expression but these analogues come to mind more with each spin. The final product isn’t necessarily a fully ‘technical’ thrash metal release but it will fit well within the hands of Voivod and Coroner fandom.
None of my thoughts would suggest that Algebra have rocketed out of any sort of primordial ooze as the project had been notably sophisticated since at least their first self-released full-length (‘Polymorph’, 2012) but the direction they’ve headed in since has been appreciable in multiples. If you’ll consider the difference between Heathen‘s debut and ‘Victims of Deception’ alongside the suggestion that they’ve gunned for that pole position Bay Area ‘classic in hindsight’ on “Digital Master” and especially “Hateful Source” the aforementioned sophistication by way of iteration should be clear enough. The question of riffs could be raised at this point and to be sure this is a guitar album that doesn’t take issue with letting the vocals take the drivers seat here and there for the sake of melodic development. With that in mind, if Hexen‘s ‘Being and Nothingness’ could be considered progressive thrash then so could ‘Pulse?’ and each features pronounced riffs alongside throngs of movement. Memorable songwriting is the clincher here, not just muscled-out guitar work.
“Addicted to Authority” is the first big standout beyond the opener and though I wouldn’t discount any of it, ‘Pulse?’ really develops in service of the increasing strength of Side B. “Manipulated Soul” and “Hateful Source” ramp up in compositional dynamic towards the grand finale of the 8+ minute title track which would lead me to anticipate and look forward to the second half of the album despite Side A being just as strong. “Digital Master” is probably the only song on the album that I’d felt added nothing to the tracklist though it isn’t a bad piece, likewise ‘Pulse?’ loses no points with me for being slightly overlong as it nearly reaches the hour mark. The faithful cover of Sepultura‘s “Dead Embryonic Cells” is alright enough though it feels out of place on the full listen and the ‘breakdown’ moment at the end feels oddly bare-assed. With closer analysis I would begin to feel like some of the ‘fat’ could have been trimmed from ‘Pulse?’ but at no point does this type of thrash metal thrive within brevity. 5-6 minute song lengths create a strong tunnel vision for the intricate rhythm guitar work; These are celebrated aspects of classic progressive thrash of the late 80’s and early 90’s so, length is less a complaint and more of a personal irk by way of the cover song inclusion. A prog-thrash record, a stream of consciousness record, a riff album, and generally one of the better thrash metal records of 2019 thus far I can very highly recommend Algebra‘s third full-length after spending some weeks with it. If you’re any less of a classic thrash fan it’d make sense to decide based upon track previews, of which I’d recommend “Inner Constraints” and “Hateful Source” first, then circle back around towards “Addicted to Authority” if you’re not a hundred percent behind the album yet.
Compendium of complete balance. 4.25/5.0
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