ASYLUM – Tyrannicide (2022)REVIEW

Attonitus novitate mali divesque miserque effugere optat... — The notion that a relative handful of men continue to gorge with obscene superfluities while the starved, stressed, and scrambling multitudes lack the voice to speak for their most common necessities of life no longer appears against the ‘laws of nature’ to the generationally deranged nepotistic selection of leadership is not only a horrendous point of shame for western civilization but, reason enough to dethrone and decapitate them all per past historical precedence observed. Though the suggestion of bloody decap-attack is my own, the right to revolt against corrupt government is an important central theme for Brisbane, Australia-based thrash metal trio Asylum as they parse through a reasonable bout of snarled reactivity in the face of dire times. ‘Tyrannicide‘ does well to convey the feeling of history repeating itself in intensifying waves as we consider environmental destruction, war, and corruption as seeming incurable self-deleting ailments of humanity within yet this is just one element of authenticity which aids the sharply refined station of their mid-to-late 80’s thrash metal influenced aggression. We find an ideal modern example of this rarified species of actually pretty good, totally pro classic thrash metal revisionism whipping from these folks’ action on this strong and otherwise modern debut, doing a particularly fine if not straightforward job of conveying a brutal, globally felt state of unrest riff after riff.

Formed somewhere north of Brisbane circa 2012 the style of thrash metal Asylum have been cracking away at for the last ten years isn’t necessarily aiming to recreate an exacting replica of the sort of sophisticated, lead-driven big deal heavy metal songcraft we’d typically found in the second half of the 80’s so much as it is influenced by the zombified revisionist revival of thrash metal in the early 2000’s. As much would’ve been obvious if you’d happened to check out their somewhat notable second EP (‘Concealed Death‘, 2016) though they don’t seem to have gotten much traction off it. In the years since they’ve worked towards an approach which is a cut above average for the sake of solid render, fine art curation (excellent cover art from Dan Goldsworthy), some reasonable lyrical interest, and plenty of single-minded yet entertaining riff-rides.

That is to say that they remain steadfastly focused on the flow of moderately technical triplet chugging riffcraft and little else for the ~40 minute duration of ‘Tyrannicide‘, skittering through an enduring throb of cleanly presented works which feature some light influence from death/thrash metal of the last few decades. The main guitarist driving the ship here carries some pronounced love for Exodus‘ long history up front though the tonality of the album has a hint of ‘Survive‘-era Nuclear Assault if it were voided of its roomy reverb and this obscures some consideration for the palm-heavy standards of the thrash metal riff set by groups like Revocation these days and I guess earlier Warbringer if we can take their earlier records seriously on some level. Being vaguely representative of the less performative side of Bay Area thrash metal staples isn’t necessarily an open-armed glowing spout of praise on my end but some extreme realism is necessary when building up expectations for the discerning thrash metal listener.

We can safely accuse these folks of playing a modern form of thrash metal in an era where that no longer constitutes a crime of bad groove metal, bad melodic death metal riffs, or stupid fucking party metal. — While ‘Tyrannicide’ is effectively a ‘riff album’ by design it is moreso for the sake of the unflinching punish which Asylum barks out for the duration of the full listen, absolute trench warfare in terms of never really coming up for air and bothering to engage in the actual theatre of it all. This makes for the sort of head-spun tunnel vision I’ve always admired about underground thrash metal as bands take serious steps towards the high standards of the past, home-brewing up their own ideation per the available skill at the time. In this case the only missing link here, the elaborately finessed composition for two guitars, is yet in development in fits and starts wherein what lead guitar work we do get enriches the moment in between the chugged triplet abuse and alternate-picked phrases. The most prime example of the right balance achieved between inspiration, clangor, and finesse is perhaps “Imminent Decay” wherein the leads have a direct and positive relation to the presentation of the piece and the song features a few unexpected turns, even taking a quick dodge into a ‘South of Heaven‘ reference seemingly for the hell of it. These more detailed, engaged moments are the best that Asylum bring to their debut.

There is a moderate ‘brutal’ thrash metal death-like edge to some of Asylum‘s angriest moments (“Worlds Asunder”, “Victim Complex”) which fills in the constantly snapped-at mid-paced riffing otherwise and I’d be surprised if even the most staunch classic thrash snob would take issue with the result even if it arrives sparingly and without any major clash with their modus otherwise. The bursts of double-bass drumming on the album, such as those found on “Insurrection”, open the door for lite mosh metal riff antics here and there but no number of asides seem to perturb the central snarling force of the trio hammering away at their vision. It is a bit of a raised-shoulder thrasher dominated by tension and frustration but this helps to keep the mood and the motion of their work consistent and engaging for extended listening sessions. Though I tend to be a major snub-noser on the majority of halfway there or just plain gaudy modern thrash metal releases nowadays this one has the right idea, the right stuff and sensibility in hand to manage a fully entertaining spin that makes me want to pick up a guitar, pan the knobs, and chuck out a few riffs once in a while. It doesn’t dominate the thrash metal continuum in terms of ideas just yet but there is a solid enough time to be had hanging out within the unflinching barrage of ‘Tyrannicide‘. A high recommendation.

High recommendation. (78/100)

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.
RELEASE DATE:September 2nd, 2022

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