Don’t ask me why I obsessively look to rock ’n’ roll bands for some kind of model for a better society. I guess it’s just that I glimpsed something beautiful in a flashbulb moment once, and perhaps mistaking it for prophecy have been seeking its fulfillment ever since.” Lester Bangs, Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung

Idealism, perfectionism, and irrationally high standards for technical execution are often seen as the self-daunting ambition of yet-to-be-doomed youths, a series of roadblocks improperly assessed. Yet these symptoms of passion are anything but naivete; Pragmatic enthusiasm is yet the only assault the overcrowded, urine-soaked halls of heavy metal have left in terms of scouring, enriching non-intellectually mired defiance. Apathetic slug-spawned freaks stir up careless, low-risk corporate heavy music culture for the sake of, well, keeping a soulless machine running on acrid fumes. Dig away at style for a lifetime if you must, the true currency of heavy metal is no different than ye olde rock n’ roll: Energy and enthusiasm. It isn’t everything but little else will actually move the desensitized homunculus of man any longer. Though they’ve taken ages to slash through formative years, taken breaks and taken hits along the way Moscow, Russia-based technical thrash/classic speed metal hybridizers Excruciation By Silence have consistently held their cards close until each release was entirely ready. In fact this debut album ‘Metal Madness‘ was more or less finished save a song or two circa 2018 but it wasn’t -ready- until now. Exuberant, expressive, traditional yet unhinged and transcending several generations of heavy/thrash metal at once, at the very least these guys have found an electric shock of style and committed to it here on their debut.

One of the greatest curses of our modern age is a ‘first world’ insistence that no person can survive as a jack of all trades, that becoming skilled in many areas ends up with a diluted and unimpressive professional. A pure manipulation, the specialist is ultimately a pliable dependent and the first to fall when adaptation becomes necessary. I say this because I appreciate any band of young folks who start out unsure of who they are, unwilling to name their key sub-genre niche until they’ve seen how the cards will fall and who will outlast the period of self-realization. This combination of technical ambition, true metal idealism, sub-genre indecision and perfectionism within guitar compositions all contributed to Excruciation By Silence ending up with a notable crossover between worlds, an idealized bridge between modern technical and/or progressive thrash metal of the post-Vektor age and the truly old school and wild maned underground of mid-80’s heavy/speed metal a la the first Helstar and Artillery albums. At least this is how the chips landed back in 2018 beyond their first two EP releases, each clearly taking influence from science fiction themed technical thrash but also kind of landing nearby the speed metal ambitions of Ukrainian band Bestial Invasion, who are arguably a bit more scattered and Mekong Delta in spirit.

Of the eight songs here six have “metal” in their titles so, it is definitely that kind of thrasher in terms of messaging, entirely intending to present heavy metal as lifestyle, fantasy, philosophy, spectacle and always in solidarity. The rock n’ roll ambitions of Dave Mustaine and his uniquely fluid style of thrash riffing informs the lead guitar writing more often than the riffing but we are met with some righteous ‘Rust in Peace’ level riffing to start, once the boogie woogie piano riff and snarling intro kicks us into it. “Death to False Metal” is a rager to start that eventually breaks into a more melodic thrashing moment that allows the vocalist to showcase some of his range, rising to a power-thrashing shriek amidst ranting verses and fairly subtle gang-shouted emphasis. “Metal Madness in Distant Space” leans on the tech-thrash side with fairly obvious influences and “Heavy Metal Army” is essentially a power/speed metal anthem. The balance of these two modes is pretty sharp and as the album progresses they link up in more natural ways. The only curveball comes with “When the Night Comes”, a goth-thrash ballad that generally works in terms of the random ‘going for it’ spirit of ‘Metal Madness’. The final piece is remarkable in terms of its deep cut choice, “Stand & Die” a killer song from obscure Midwest power-thrashers The Regime that calls for Tim Baker sized vocal howls up high to great effect. These moments don’t necessarily surprise me, being generally familiar with the band’s work since 2018, yet I recognize the running order isn’t at all gentle about introducing several fresh hits of new ideas.

The full whip through ‘Metal Madness’ is at times inconsistent in style or, at least willing to cut sharply between modern tech-thrashing moments and a more traditional heavy metal impetus with the vocals expressing quite a vexing range of timbre and style. I appreciate Excruciation By Silence‘s fighting fit crossing of extremity with tradition a great deal so, much of ‘Metal Madness’ was righteous and energetic stuff, an easy go-to record I’ve appreciated my time with. It sounds like they’ve gone in a tech-thrash direction since writing most of this album in 2018 so, the hope is that they keep some of these sparking traditional heavy metal elements in there to stay lively and ease away from the usual pratfalls of pomposity that progressive thrash typically ruts itself with. Only for the true or hey, the ‘weird but true’ out there and surely a solid spin for any tech/power-thrasher in need of a ‘fun’ kick that is easy to shriek and thrash along with. A moderately high recommendation.

Moderately high recommendation. (75/100)

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.
TITLE:Metal Madness
LABEL(S):Metal Race Records
RELEASE DATE:March 9th, 2021
BUY & LISTEN:Bandcamp [All Formats]
GENRE(S):Heavy/Speed Metal,
Technical Thrash Metal

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