In a bid to put more of a dent in our review request pile (we estimate 8000 submissions last year), here’s a quick-fire round up of four upcoming thrash releases. Get your neck muscles warmed up. Are you moshing comfortably? Then I’ll begin…
Fusion Bomb – Concrete Jungle
Sometimes when you’re leafing through emails, an album sleeve catches your eye and you just know what kind of music is wrapped within. One look at the wonderfully over-the-top image of a ghost holding a brain with bits of skeleton swirling around it, in front of a guy holding a machete and if Concrete Jungle wasn’t a thrash album you could have blown me down with a razor-sharp feather.
What we have here are ten tracks of no-frills old-school thrash metal. I’m reminded more of Exodus than any other act when I’m listening, and this is no bad thing. Thrash is a defined genre and though there are some experiments here and there, some of which work pretty damn well, I always get drawn back to the absolute basics. This is a typically angry and loud album laden with tracks with names like “Knuckleburger”, “You’re A Cancer To This World” and “Slam Tornado”.
The vocal style does change a little from track to track, and there’s the very occasional hardcore-esque grunt, but this is just… great. There are no surprises, just full-on high-tempo unfettered thrash metal. Fusion Bomb are a young band from Luxembourg and Concrete Jungle is their first release. They should be proud.
Concrete Jungle is out on January 25th
Leach – Hymns For The Hollow
Despite definitely being thrash, Leach have a very different sound from Fusion Bomb. More of a punk edge with far harsher vocals and an edge of the “post-” genres, they do have some slower moments to allow the pits to open. Indeed they do bill themselves a “thrash n’ roll” which explains the catchy riffs as well as the pounding drums and wailing solos.
Hymns For The Hollow is a far more complex mixture than Concrete Jungle but still definitely has thrash at its core. “New Low”, for instance, just doesn’t let up. It blazes through from beginning to end with the only gaps being little teases before the flurry rips your face off. Lyrics are more of a Hatebreed-esque hardcore style, but the music’s 95% thrash.
While not being a “pure” thrash album, there’s enough here to have it rub shoulders proudly with it older denim-clad brethren. Thrash with groove, perhaps. It’s certainly a nice update on the classic sound.
Hymns For The Hollow is out on January 18th
Critical Defiance – Misconception
The production definitely doesn’t match that of Fusion Bomb’s upcoming release, but for this kind of music it really doesn’t matter. Let’s be honest, Kill ‘Em All sounded like it was recorded up a robot’s arse and it did well enough… and it wasn’t as fast as this. “Punished Existence” must be one of the fastest thrash numbers my ears have ever witnessed. It does have a nice, chuggy section partway through, but not before laying waste to all laid before it with its sheer ferocity. If I was to go for influences, I’d say early Sepultura but that may be more down to the vocal style than anything else.
That’s not to say that Critical Defiance can’t be melodic. The very next track, “507”, is an instrumental which even has gasp keyboards. Right at the very end. But it lets the musicians really strut their stuff and it’s more like a fast-paced Maiden number.
Chock full of chopping guitars, brutality and some great riffs, Misconception does what it sets out to do. It’d be carnage to hear this material live as well.
Misconception is out on February 9th
Ravager – Thrashletics
Opener “Descending Dawn” is the calm before the storm, a brief lilting instrumental number designed to lull the unwary into their trap. As soon as “Mindblender” hits you in the face like a razorblade-encrusted watermelon, you’re on the floor but still headbanging. Welcome to the pit, my friend. Don’t worry, someone will help you up.
“Dysphoria” again proves the musical chops of this band with a nice classic metal intro before the faster material kicks in, but pretty much otherwise this is a high speed train of an album. One with big spikes all over it.
History is touched upon as “Slaughter of Innocents” brings up the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War, and we have the obligatory moshpit anthem, “Pit Stop… Don’t Stop In The Pit!” – ‘All for one and one for all, if we hit the floor we can always crawl’. This is what thrash is all about.
Again, a band taking things back to basics and Ravager can hold their German heads high with this sophomore release.
Thrashletics is out on February 15th