Extreme metal primitivism dialed back to its nascent but least ignorant forms reveals bone and sinew comprised of what was cutting edge hardcore punk rapacity and structure applied to heavy metal guitar histrionics. This is no doctrine but one avenue for finding the true crotch of hybridization that would feed the way forward in the new 1980’s underground. As much ground as Neat Records and Clay Records cover in this regard these were houses for acts that were toying with dimensional boundaries by nature, not necessarily bursting out by force. It’d be the high-rate evolutionary expression they’d instill into others that created greater extremism and there we can begin to see the functioning simpatico of organelles that makes up important groups such as Bathory, Voivod, and Hellhammer among many others. Rearrange the timeline, swap out as many names as you need you’ve gotten the general idea and I’d choose those names for the sake of illustrating key primal acts unavoidably influenced by Discharge and Amebix. How does all of this led to 1999 where death/thrash and metalpunk ideals would form classicist fusion in Zoldier Noiz, a brutal d-beat/thrash act between founding guitarist/vocalist Tankvinss and members of… Mütiilation? Yes, in fact Meyhna’ch himself recorded their first demo tape (‘Necrofog‘, 2006). Curious trivia aside, the foundation of Zoldier Noiz is yet intentionally as “primitive” as possible in terms of early extreme metal structure yet the ‘Beat the Bastards’ level of loud and shocking energetics sustains their discography, which is now three albums deep via ‘Merci’.
D-beat influenced thrash metal when considered via any non-literal interpretation is too broad a categorization to consider, even when whittled down to the late 80’s. Groups like Energetic Krusher, Hellbastard, and Deviated Instinct are the easiest grabs from that pool and each is more-or-less fitting in description of the sense of warrior purpose and somewhat malevolent attitude in relation to all Zoldier Noiz material but, this is only one facet of what made the band interesting enough to warrant several full-lengths. As we move past the second demo tape (‘Straight Down to Hell‘, 2007) in approach and realization of their debut full-length (‘Schizoïd Reject‘, 2009) the vested interest in Voivod‘s ‘War and Pain’ alongside the rolling bounds of Hellhammer round out this experience and provide enough varietal DNA to help the relatively short LP along. There the Mark I line-up of the band ends in 2012 via a self-released live album. Though it is arguably stated, the death/thrash attack of the band would show up via a Mark II line-up enlisted to record the band’s second album (‘Regression Process‘, 2014) which would be released on a fairly new label, Unspeakable Axe Records, whom I’d discovered earlier that year via Omnicide. This second album wasn’t just a bit more brutally achieved but it was probably their most polished and exemplar production to date, now bringing to mind hints of Recipients of Death, Infamous Sinphony, and even Extinction of Mankind as their attack intensified. That is to suggest that more direct lunges towards thrash metal with an aggressive crust/hardcore punk lean characterized that debut. It’d land on my best of the year list and served as my introduction to the band. All of these notes are intended to suggest very subtle changes in timbre and attack, for all intensive purposes the vision for Zoldier Noiz had hardly changed since their first demo in 2006 and this observation holds true for the next EP (‘Earth Lethal Zone‘, 2017) and generally speaking, ‘Merci’ as well.
What does ‘Merci’ bring for itself? A new line-up to start, featuring members of black and sludge metal bands from the greater Toulouse area. They’ve clearly been chosen for their skill levels, one a quite effective and technical bassist cognizant of hardcore punk tonality but capably of Atheist-worthy bopping and a drummer who is more rigid and intensely paced than any previous iteration of Zoldier Noiz. This should suggest that the attack of the band has become most venomous while Tankvinss‘ guitar and vocal work push into more avant-speed metal realms, Voivod-inspired phrasal shaping, and an album that begins with a brutal punch and ends with a drunken-spiraling view of the stars. The core hybrid form of metalpunk still speaks throughout the experience, ‘Merci’ is nuclear apocalyptic thrashpunk delivered by a death/thrash-capable trio and this makes for a staggering spectacle at times. “To The Lord His Due” speaks to me as a fan of the riffing on the self-titled Discharge comeback record from the early 2000’s, where a metallic exaggeration of their ’82 spirit met production full of raw buzzsaw edges; This piece is perhaps one part ‘Haunting the Chapel’ but you’ll get the idea. The bass guitarist has already stood out at this point but his frequently active presence across the four minute piece clarifies that his performance is going to be somewhat virtuosic throughout the album and this was something I welcomed with open arms.
Of course I didn’t recognize “Heaven Street”, a somewhat deep cut in terms of common Death in June covers, but I have to admit it brings an important melodic highlight at the heart of an otherwise pummeling album; Their version sounds like street punk affected by Voivod‘s early 90’s post-punk/alt rock psychedelia, a gutter-blasted foundry for a sophisticated piece and thankfully we find the band carrying over some of that energy and ominous attitude for “Signs of the Demise”. The psychedelic punk-thrash dynamic kicks back in with “Earth Lethal Zone”, a bit more buttoned-up version from the same-titled EP a few years prior. The album ends on a few strong notes and as such it should provide some of the strongest overall running order of the three Zoldier Noiz album-sized releases. Again, that isn’t to say they’ve evolved into a different sort of mutant or anything but themselves just you’ll notice the performances are particularly sharp despite the modest production values. I don’t think the album needs much more analysis or description than that — Ultimately the thrash/metalpunk feeling is entirely their own thanks to sourcing from exemplar primitive origins for the sake of the project’s sustained identity. Beyond that, I love that they’ve gone a little extra weird and emphasized such a satisfying bass guitar tone. A high recommendation.
|LABEL(S):||Ripping Storm Records|
|RELEASE DATE:||October 10th, 2020|
|BUY & LISTEN:||Direct Mail Order|
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