One look at the album title will give you an idea of the type of music you can expect from Extrema… Almost. They’re definitely a thrash act at heart, but with added depth. Formed in the early 80s, they actually opened for Slayer when the Bay Area legends toured Italy in support of a little album called Reign in Blood.
Over thirty years on, founder member and guitarist Tommy Massara leads the band as they drop release number (lucky for some) thirteen, if you include all their EPs. Production values are definitely higher than they were back in the good old days, and this shows from the off with an introductory flurry of military sounds which would be good enough to test out your Dolby Surround system. It leads into “The Call” which both thrashes and rocks, allowing the four-piece to showcase both ends of their musical scale.
Crunchy guitars flurry throughout the album, but there are melodic breaks amongst the neck-snapping violence which genuinely make Extrema stand out from the crowd with a pretty unique overall sound. It’s the heavier stuff I’m here for, though, and the belting pace of “For The Loved And The Lost” is a prime example of the band at their thrashiest.
Well, it is until you hit the title track which is as good a metal anthem as you’ll hear these days. The shortest song on the album, it is non-stop cranial devastation with great lyrics, a wailing guitar solo, and pounding drums and bass.
Although I’ve focussed on the heavier elements, when Extrema drop in something more laid back, it does seem to work. However, I’d be using breaks like that to gather my breath for the next onslaught.
Header photo credit: Annalisa Russo
Headbanging Forever is out on May 10th