VICIOUS KNIGHTS – Alteration Through Possession (2022)REVIEW

Armed with wide-eyed visions of horror and suspense pulled right from the appropriate era of face-slashers and skull-crushing phantasms, morbid frighteners Vicious Knights formed as a young trio in Thessaloniki, Greece circa 2015 under the name Obsession, quickly releasing their first demo CD (‘Demo 2016‘) before changing their name that same year. The major goals of this troupe were pretty clear from the start in terms of their taking the thrash-maddened spirit of 80’s death metal and the structured yet frantic attack of the first two Kreator albums and finding their own bloodiest centrifugal death-thrashing form within those possibilities. In doing so these guys committed to the ouroboric aggression that keeps idiots like me glued to adrenaline music decades later, a riff-fest with emphasis on physically inspired progressions and surprising quick changes. It is the eldest and still most pure form of extreme metal hybridization with any piss still left to take and in their hands it comes with great enthusiasm for mayhemic violence, first readily observable on their debut EP (‘Malevolent Spirits‘, 2018) a record which had solid grip upon what remains timeless and uproarious about death/thrash so many decades beyond advent. ‘Alteration Through Possession’ doesn’t fuck around in the slightest when striking at the heart of ‘old school’ death/thrash metal, picking up their terror-sword and killing riff after riff as expected, all while implementing high-rate developed technical skills without losing the trundling ’88 death-thrashing cult sound that they’d originally presented.

Alteration Through Possession‘ is a record which appears to intend entry into the hall of ’86-’89 thrashing death metal heroism, designed from the ground up to illicit some authentic entry from a long-dead era capitalizing upon both animalistic and technically refined feats of the adrenaline-guided nature. “The Boneghoul King – The Miserly” and especially “Vicious Knights” should give classicist death/thrash heads visions of early Massacra within their post-‘Terrible Certainty‘ levelled riff attack and extended rhythmic phrases which not only speak to late 80’s Teutonic thrash metal voicing but also the inventive standard those bands influenced within early death metal. From hints of Possessed‘s run heavy jagged rhythms to direct analogues to Messiah‘s ‘Extreme Cold Weather‘ and ‘Morbid Visions‘-era Sepultura we find the stair-climbing font of death metal’s rise post-‘Apocalyptic Raids‘. Fans of Mortal Scepter, Protector, and Minotaur (Germany) should immediately find kin in these feats.

Vicious Knights are comparably more on the fence than that all might suggest, at least in terms of now developing higher-standard thrash metal precision and structural feats informed by the technical violence of late 80’s death/thrash metal — A certain high-brained Destruction-esque “attack” develops herein and I’m curious to see where they continue with this thread. This should speak to the band’s study of authenticity when those in the know approach ‘Alteration Through Possession‘, an experience that is at first blazing past and raw but has some intelligent construction when pieced out. That said they’ve only just emphasized one particularly strong pocket of riff on this album, though they’ve made fine work of it, and leave very little room for anything but these tight-riffed pieces to overtake the listener’s old school attuned skull. For my own taste this is pure virtue, having formed the whole experience around militant heavy metal riffing at high speeds but I can imagine 4-5 wheels through the record will reveal little more than a primitivist extension of auld extreme metal spirit. Again, music to my ears and tomfoolery to the false whom don’t perk up when discussion turns to rawest edges of classic thrash.

The propulsive, punkish half-blast of “Sleep With the Ghouls”, the hard-thrashed tarantella of “Swing From the Grave”, and the ‘Infernal Overkill‘-esque rasping bulldozer of riff that is “It Was in My House” highlight an album which presents a world of haunted fables, distended souls warped by manifestations of evil, and generally gives us an unseen Eldritch curse to muse over while Vicious Knights attack. The effect isn’t entirely street-level thrash metal nor is it pure death metal at any point but a horror-thrashing vibe ensures the light hand for melody which these fellowes incorporate does land within this clear late 80’s German evil-thrashing voicing. The full listen is well arranged in terms of riff events, though I feel like a few Side B pieces might’ve even outshined “From Nothingness To A Slave Of Darkness” as opener but I more or less get why it made sense to lead with it. I’ve no doubt the classic thrasher whom likewise thrives within the darker realms of pre-’92 death/thrash metal will find plenty to love within ‘Alteration Through Possession‘ and for sure count me in among said victims. A high recommendation.

High recommendation. (78/100)

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.
TITLE:Alteration Through Possession
LABEL(S):Dying Victims Productions
RELEASE DATE:January 28th, 2022

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