With the boundless spark of passion dwindling away youth’s energy by circumstantial defeatism, depression, or imbalanced introspection the young man’s instinct is to fear any secured limitations to potential. One will only make this much money, create on this level of quality, or (eventually) lose sight of the times due to nostalgic obsessions and the farce of slowly dulling wits. No doubt these fears can be sustainable drivers for great accomplishments but the human mind enriched by rot, ripening and resistance to societal norms becomes an exponential expanse to look forward to. To see only bluing skies, depression and self-oppression where the fiery sun of vitality is near set only feels like a calamity for those who’ve lived in the red skies of thier passion without striving toward balance. Like Hexen and Deathrow before them Peñaflor, Chile-based thrash metal band Parkcrest wake up from a brutal dream of curses, supernatural violence, and the spinning blades of a thousand toothed maw ready to liquefy their dreams and instead choose to pattern their commentary and path forward by way of earnest introspection and a truly righteous bout of classic late 80’s thrash metal aggression.
Formed around late ~2011 or so when key members were still likely teens, Parkcrest have largely been considered to be one of the most unsung potential-bearers within the context of the pure and violently aggressive thrash metal music coming out of their area this last decade. As you stride through their discography witnessing a strong sense of rhythm develop into strong technical ability influenced by classic thrash metal, it’ll be easy to see these guys on the level with bands like Ripper, Hellish, and Critical Defiance because they’re either also members of those bands or they’ve shared a small scene and home studio (Cristian León’s Lion’s Roar Studio) for the last decade or so. From the start the original quartet played a violent form of thrash, verging on the brutality of late 80’s death/thrash influence but usually reeling it back towards ’87 stuff such as Sadus‘ debut, Kreator‘s third album, Sepultura‘s ‘Schizophrenia’, Mutilator‘s debut, and the first Apostasy album. The speed wasn’t always -that- intense on their early demos but by the time their debut (‘Hallucinative Minds‘, 2016) released they were hitting Morbid Saint hard while keeping it classic, never hardcorish or too brutal. Vocalist/guitarist Javier Salgado had joined Hellish who leaned towards black/speed metal at that point, having just released ‘Grimoire‘ (2016) and by comparison his work on ‘Hallucinative Minds’ was geared more towards a cleaner, ‘Beneath the Remains’-meets-Bay Area style thrash attack. There are many more high quality records like ‘Hallucinative Minds’ hidden in the Santiago-area thrash metal underground and in 2020 the worry is that the high-powered follow-up of ‘…And That Blue Will Turn to Red’ will go unnoticed outside of their sphere of influence as well.
Hell, it almost did. Self-released digitally back in late October 2019 next to no one noticed Parkcrest‘s second album drop beyond the intrepid old school thrashers at Awakening Records who’ve picked up the album for physical release today with minimal changes beyond cover art alterations. Just because it didn’t catch fire for a few months doesn’t mean it sucks, though! ‘…And That Blue Will Turn to Red’ is essentially a collection of songs Parkcrest have been polishing since as early as 2014 with “Darkest Fear” and “Possessed by God” first appearing on the ‘The End of Times‘ (2014) demo; Other tracks included were perhaps trialed on demos where the feeling of the songs didn’t work with the modus of ‘Hallucinative Minds’ or needed a bit more time to cook into something truly special (“Midnight Chasm” from ‘Tormenting Hallucinations‘ split with Atrophy-worshiping thrashers Deranged being a fine example). Otherwise some newer compositions, which tend to be slightly more technical, showcase an increasing flair for intricacy, classic heavy metal influence, and blazing Dark Angel levels of high-speed frenetics — Referencing classic Anacrusis and 80’s Kreator in description of the album’s goals, the project as a whole is clearly willing to push the limits of their creativity but they are not going to compromise their ‘old school’ thrash metal riff attack along the way. Thankfully the ‘too fast for their own good’ pacing of past works is still there, drilling the thrasher ear unto ecstasy and riffing ceaselessly throughout this fantastic ~50 minute thrash metal album.
My first thought in reflection of Parkcrest‘s second album pointed towards Dorsal Atlântica‘s underrated ‘Searching For the Light’ album, which had similar progressive instrumental presence (but less brutal speed) as well as themes of disillusioned youth searching for purpose within personal and societal decline. Once in deeper immersion and analysis the mind went elsewhere, primarily ‘Beneath the Remains’ (see: “Impossible to Hide”) and some of the same Teutonic-meets-Bay Area thrash metal standards found within Critical Defiance‘s debut from last year, which makes sense as the two bands are not strangers and appear to have some similar taste and compositional sensibilities. “Tired and Guilty” in particular pulls in the classic hyper speed late 80’s ‘Schizophrenia’/’Beneath the Remains’-style thrash that I get most excited about; The song was originally demoed on the ‘Mental Discharge‘ (2017) demo along with barn-burner “Punished in Life” which appears as perhaps the most blistering attack on Side A. “Punished in Life” likewise showcases the supportive but wildly banging bass guitar work from Cristoffer Pinto, bringing a real standout presence throughout the album by adding a unique-but-understated flair to the rocketed-force of Parkcrest‘s classic thrash sound.
Though it is made up of pieces pulled from different stages of the band’s career each song bears meaningful placement in the overall flow of the full listen. It may be an excitable and dense nigh tech-thrasher on the surface but this is in service to the typical sense of rapid flow for late 80’s high-minded thrash metal. With this in mind there are few steps outside of that realm on ‘…And That Blue Will Turn to Red’. Perhaps the only piece that feels somewhat divergent from pre-1990 thrash metal constructs comes with the 7+ minute instrumental “Dwelling of the Moonlights” which kicks off the second half of the album. What develops as a traditional showpiece for Salgado and Diego Armijo’s (Ripper) dual guitar attack soon begins to tap into Hexen-esque prog-thrash phrasing and even a hint of ‘Independent Thought Patterns’-era Death influenced riffing. For an album themed heavily by inner turmoil, mental anguish, societal hate, disorder and the chaotic mind resultant the introspective healing achieved within is helped greatly by this extended instrumental where the mind breathes and prepares for the incredible finale beyond. No question the momentum going into the second half of the record is capitalized upon musically but without the major standout of title track “…And That Blue Will Turn to Red” I don’t think Parkcrest‘s second album would’ve fully pushed into greatness. There the lyrics should hit home for anyone able to reflect upon their growth as a person in their twenties, slowly seeing opportunity slip past and starting to pile high enough to see, and feel, personal limitations mounting. The existential dread felt when wondering if you’ll get that personal inner fire back when it feels lost is a huge part of the album’s message, as far as I can discern.
In the most succinct terms possible: The solos are credited in the lyrics. Classic! Riffs: This album has ’em, the intensity and intricacy is there on a peak-thrasher level without becoming flashy egotistical excess, and this makes the full record a goddamned thrill to spin through a thousand times over. If you were as excited about ‘Misconception‘ (and ‘Paroxysm of Hatred‘ for that matter) as I was last year then you’ll get it straight away; This is a modern refinement of all of those amateur late 80’s “lower tier” records you’ve been collecting and appreciating far more than the “agreed upon classics” decades later. ‘…And That Blue Will Turn to Red’ feels exactly right for what I want from thrash metal in 2020 and as a result I can give a very high recommendation of it. You’ll likely have to put in the work to get it, importing it from Chile or China, but it’ll be worth it when it hits you.
Very high recommendation. 4.5/5.0
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