TEN FROM THE TOMB is a weekly feature in the form of a themed list devoted to grouping together albums of similar interest that I missed throughout the year 2019. These albums were overlooked for review for any number of reasons with the most common reason being constraint of time. I have a policy of covering 99% of everything I receive in some form, be it mini-review or full-feature, so don’t hesitate to send anything and everything my way.
Here I present a ten album sampler of some of thrash metal / thrash related releases that I overlooked this year. Consider it a chance to break out of sub-genre specific themes and grab a few special order items in the back of your favorite record store. Most of these albums made it here to Ten From the Tomb because I couldn’t manage the time for a long-form review or because I really didn’t have more than a paragraph or two worth of insight beyond banal description. If you’re not into the selection this week, relax! This’ll be back every 7 days with 10 more albums from different styles, genres, themes, etc. If you’re way into thrash watch for the ‘20 Underground Thrash Metal Releases You Missed in 2019‘ list feature coming in early November.
Hey! Don’t dive in thinking this will all be shit just because I am not doing full reviews for these releases! I always have some quality control in mind and look for expressive, meaningful, or just damn heavy releases that hold value without gimmickry or bland plagiarism. This weeks focus was curated while specifically looking for old school thrash metal sounds during my preparations for end of the year lists and coming up short on riffs. Thank you! I am eternally grateful for the support of readers and appreciate the friendly and positive interactions I’ve had with all thus far. Think my opinions are trash and that I suck? Want to totally tell me off, bro? Click away and let’s all live more sensible lives full of meaningful interactions. I’m too old and bored with people to care.
|Title [Type/Year]||Beyond the Wall of Desolation [LP/2019]|
|Rating [3.75/5.0]||BUY from Southern Lord|
Beyond the obvious niche resemblance Worcester, Massachusetts high fantasy crossover/thrash metal band High Command manage to be just different enough when placed side by side with their peers to stand out. Power Trip, Iron Age, Enforced, and the leagues of similar 90’s hardcore meets crossover thrash acts since ‘Age of Quarrel’ and ‘Forward Into Battle’ were released all boil down to metalpunk for folks who’d otherwise never touch the stuff. Where does ‘Beyond the Wall of Desolation’ fit into that sphere? Their sword and sorcery theme has gotten more theatrically charged as the band define themselves but in studio I’d say High Command reaches for at the slow motion speed metal side of things with increasing frequency; You’ll hear half-speed ‘Kill ‘Em All’ and ‘Reign in Blood’ riffs all over the full listen; Members from Seax and Fuming Mouth round out the line-up these days and in my mind these are all folks who generally have a lot of fun doing what they’re doing. The major draw here probably isn’t any sort of sub-genre reinvention or innovative enlightenment and I think it’d be fair to say this is a band for crossover fans by crossover fans that is clearly inspired by crossover/thrash. It all fits into the right niche, the full listen is easy and heavy enough, but at 43 minutes the hardcore side of High Command‘s dynamic kinda relies on a redundant set of dynamics. It loses conviction by the end of the spin. The bar is set very high for this type of record and I think they’re just a few inches above par with this well realized debut.
|Title [Type/Year]||Casualties of Causality [LP/2019]|
|Rating [3.25/5.0]||BUY from Maniac Abductor|
Joensuu, Finland thrash heads Maniac Abductor make their full-length debut with a succinct and riff-heavy record that is almost too polished for its own good. Their love of 2000’s thrash revival and ‘old school’ thrash alike lands their sound within the ‘safer’ boundaries of modern thrash but ‘Casualties of Causality’ is no less violent or impressive for being a clean, professional and heavy specimen. Havok and Distillator come to mind though there are some mosh centric, half-thrash parts that thankfully avoid ‘-core’ side of things. Strong debut, excellent drum/bass presence in the mix/master, I’d just wanted it to really fire off on all cylinders a bit more. Huge respect for any die-hard thrash band that covers 80’s Sepultura with this much confidence and while cranking the speed a bit.
|Title [Type/Year]||Legions of the Undead [EP/2019]|
|Rating [3.5/5.0]||BUY from M-Theory Audio|
Still riding high off of their fifth full-length release last year Whittier, California neoclassical melodic death/thrash band Exmortus have a little fun in the off-season with this Halloween-bound EP featuring a couple of original tracks that sound as if they were from the ‘The Sound of Steel’ (2018) sessions as well as some shred covers of themes from Beetlejuice, Psycho, as well as the more instantly recognizable ‘Night on Bald Mountain’. I’m generally a fan of Exmortus because they fit well into the modern history of technical thrash metal and their approach to shred has never been soulless or overworked. What interests me more than anything else is the exploration of tonal pieces in Exmortus‘ typical style, it isn’t exactly Windham Hell or whatever but the sort of macabre tuned tarantella of it all is worth experiencing if you’re prone to imagine the possibilities beyond.
|Title [Type/Year]||Into the Armageddon [LP/2019]|
|Rating [3.5/5.0]||BUY from Xtreem Music|
Hailing from Ankara, Turkey since 2006 Thrashfire would more or less restaff entirely in 2013 a couple of years after their debut ‘Thrash Burned the Hell’ (2011) but by 2015 they were twice as heavy upon their return with the ‘Vengeance of Fire’ EP. What kind of thrash? They’ll mostly cite heavier 80’s thrashers on the extreme end of things alongside classic heavy metal and punk and ‘Into the Armageddon’ does give off that raw ’87 Sodom feeling as much as it inches out into the motions of globalist modern thrash sounds. The first impression is great with Thrashfire and I love the aggression paired with what are generally speed metal structured songs, some are mildly catchy but most of the experience features bristling, roaring thrash that becomes fairly mild in the span of 44 minutes or so. The pace drags a bit on Side B and because the riffs never quite make that leap towards Dark Angel or Massacra levels of energy the appeal of the record mellowed on me after a while. This one kinda aims for the pure classic thrasher but the right mark is probably a black/thrash fan or anyone wanting something darker than pizza thrash.
|Title [Type/Year]||Evil Reigns [EP/2019]|
|Rating [3.75/5.0]||BUY from Redefining Darkness|
Horrid Apparition is a new blackened thrash metal project from the folks in Dungeönhammer only this time around they’re focusing on the early days of Slayer, Destruction, and Bathory. It is a short hit of speed at 9 minutes but I’m a sucker for anything that sounds remotely like ‘Infernal Overkill’ and ‘Haunting the Chapel’. I dunno if the material on ‘Evil Reigns’ is up there with groups like Deathhammer but I love their sound and vision for the project, which is brutally ‘old school’ in design. I feel like this sound could go in two directions, basically ‘Hell Awaits’ or something like Matterhorn. I’m all in on whatever they do next either way, as there are few bands who can still pull off early Slayer influence with any sincerity anymore.
|Title [Type/Year]||The Phantom Fear [LP/2019]|
|Rating [3.75/5.0]||LISTEN on Spotify|
Another thrash metal album from the youths of Finland, this time a group of fellowes out of Hillilä who’re clearly influenced by the old guard of 80’s thrash metal but often branch out into death and groove metal influences. ‘The Phantom Fear’ could be described as a modern thrash record for how it’d branch out in a few different directions but its sound and performances sound much like a thrash band in 1994 at a time when many European thrashers didn’t know whether to step into alternative rock, death metal, or groove metal… and even if they knew where to go with their sound they’d never left behind the speed metal riffing. No matter how you’d choose to envision their sound Tasteful Turmoil have undoubtedly written a handful of great thrash songs; “On Through the Dark Days” is a fantastic example with riffs that are part Vio-lence, part Infected (Switzerland), and a song that wouldn’t have been out of place on a later Stone album. Side B is way, way better than Side A in this case so either be patient or skip over a few songs to start.
|Title [Type/Year]||Blood of the Infidel [LP/2019]|
|Rating [3.0/5.0]||BUY from West of Hell|
Described as ‘progressive power/thrash’ and featuring Zimmers Hole vocalist Chris Valagao this second full-length from West of Hell was an album that had no hope of ever winning me over. Not that I don’t love power/thrash, I do, but the modern variety of it is difficult to connect with. I appreciate the true metal/alt metal yowl of Valagao‘s vocals, his embellishments and phrasing ooze with personality; Check out his freakout towards the middle of “Infidels”. As often as shred-lite thrash riffs are brought to the table the whole of the instrumentals are more often a mix of alt-metal and progressive metal that doesn’t always settle exactly right around the unpredictable tone of the vocal performances. I get flashbacks for post-millennium Angel Dust more than anything else. I’d read a review on Metal-Archives that suggested this “begs to be heard by fans of Metallica and Meshuggah alike.” and I suppose I am genuinely disturbed by that because (Meshuggah were a bad Metallica clone in their early career, and) this is a much more specific take and sound than that’d suggest.
|Title [Type/Year]||Wheel of Fortune [Full-length/2019]|
|Rating [3.5/5.0]||LISTEN on Spotify|
Helsinki based thrash metal band Terrific Verdict released a few demos in the late 80’s that’d tended towards early Venom and primitive German thrash a bit more than most of their peers in Finland at the time. They’d split in 1990 and reformed in 2017. I appreciate that they they’ve taken the time to re-record a few songs from their demo days, particularly “No Return”, though the majority of the album’s style has refined well beyond the caveman thrash days. The album art is terrible, though. I always appreciated thrash bands that could flip a switch between different admixtures of street thrash and arena thrash without going ballad soft in the middle. ‘Wheel of Fortune’ stuck in my mind because it is so aggressive, as if it’d have to outdo the ferocity of the bands ‘Lost Preacher’ demo nearly thirty years later. It’ll be overlooked because of the cartoon gunwheel but stick with it if you appreciate bands like I.N.C. and the various shades of Bay Area thrash as heard through European ears in the mid-80’s.
|Title [Type/Year]||Mourn the Southern Skies [LP/2019]|
|Rating [3.0/5.0]||LISTEN on Spotify|
Although they’re best known for the raw ‘death metal’ production of their 1990 debut ‘Slaughter in the Vatican’ it isn’t stretch to see the same core musical personality alive on Exhorder‘s third album ‘Mourn the Southern Skies’. ‘The Law’ was a pretty big step beyond the early days of the band but I wouldn’t say their approach has changed drastically here in 2019 just a little bite more alternative metal in tone and less focused on anything but an easy groove metal pace. I’m all ears for this kind of thing to a certain point, though I need a Corrosion Conformity level of swing for half-thrash/groove to really get me going. They’re able to get there a few times but nothing that’d really stuck in my head after several listens.
|Title [Type/Year]||Cathartic Demise [EP/2019]|
|Rating [3.0/5.0]||BUY from Cathartic Demise|
Though they’re labelled as a progressive thrash metal band I’d say the most important detail in describing Kitchener, Ontario quartet Cathartic Demise is their ‘thrash metal from a melodic death/groove metal’ point of view. This sort of melodeath/thrash was so prevalent in the late 90’s and early 2000’s that I’d lost all patience for it years ago and isn’t my jam at all. Witch consideration for the full listen ‘Cathartic Demise’ is a bit more The Black Dahlia Murder than it is say, Dew-Scented in the plainest terms as general melodic forms and slight metalcore influences edge far outside of thrash/groove metal status. I didn’t at all like the vocal performances on the album, and found myself avoiding further listens early on. If you’re more into modern melodic death metal and melodic metalcore this is a good option for something that leans towards the heaviness of modern thrash metal for some of its delivery. If they’d hone in on more repetitive melodic sections I’d be all ears for the sharp quality of the recording and general sound design. The concept is there but there is a major need for ‘hooks’ or broader melodic strokes in general.
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