In a bid to get through more of the outstanding album review pile, here’s a triumvirate of thrash-related releases…
Toxic Ruin – Mortal Insolence
All the way from Wisconsin, Toxic Ruin add an edge of death metal to their thrash riffing and the four tracks on this EP show them off well. Brief but violent, the twenty minutes crammed into this release are enough to cause damage to the cervical vertebrae, such will be the speed and ferocity of headbanging. That’s not to say that all they can do is play to a fast beat. During “Mental Atrophy” for instance, there’s a great shredded solo. Backed by breakneck drums, the solo itself is far more musical than it has any right to be.
Vocals throughout are harsh screams or growls which account for the death influences and there’s a definite overtone of darkness and evil. Of course, if you’re all wrapped up in the music, as I found myself to be then you may only notice how fast it can be! Taking a cue from the masters of the thrash arts, though, Toxic Ruin intersperse slower sections to counterpoint things, and often these are ridiculously heavy. Witness the break around halfway through Tyrannical Demise which embraces doom overtones with a wicked bassline before rattling into a faster instrumental section.
Technically a 3-track release, there’s a bonus of “Crystal Mountain”. Overall harsh and fast, but with an odd acoustic guitar overlaid towards the end giving it an added melodic feel. Bizarre… but it works.
Not a bad little collection from a band I’d not heard of before – and it’s out now!
Infinity – Awakening
Sticking with the US, Philadelphia this time, for Infinity who bill themselves as metal, thrash and hard rock. They’re not kidding either with all three influences coming across clearly in the first song, “Set Me Free”. This allows them to have catchy, singalong choruses; blistering, violent solos; and slow, heavy breaks… all of which meld together surprisingly well with a multi-layered approach in places.
The title track is very old-school in feel, a lot of this due to the production. It’s quite tinny and echoey in places yet still has a thumping bass. It makes me think of older Nuclear Assault in terms of the overall sound if not quite the pacing and heaviness. Well, at least until the final flurry descends and all hell breaks loose!
I think the heavier numbers on the album are the best, though the treble needs to be knocked on the head for some of the cymbals. The bass tones come nice and clear, but there’s a bit too much “tsh” for my liking. It’s a good mix of songs and styles, with some obvious experimentation in there as the band try not to sound derivative – the injection of harsh backing vocals into “Awakening” for instance. In this aspect, they’ve definitely succeeded.
Check ’em out below and you can grab the album already as it dropped at the end of May.
Kamikaze Zombie – The Destroyer of All Things
Birmingham now… oh, in Alabama. So still the US. Anyway, Kamikaze Zombie are somewhat heavier than the previous two offerings and they have an ongoing lyrical theme of “stuff from horror films”. They take on board influences from black metal, doom, sludge, death metal and punk/thrash. This makes for a very aggressive, violent feel which works well with the subject matter. Brief “recordings” or spoken word segments pop up through the record to add a bit of atmosphere/scenario to some of the tracks.
Bands of this type, with a strong horror theme, can often become parodies of themselves unwittingly or otherwise. Kamikaze Zombie despite the admittedly silly name, escape this by force of sheer brutality. This is some heavy shit, constantly assaulting the ears yet well structured and working well alongside its source material.
The necksnapping thrash sections give way to periods of slow and heavy, and are linked together with melodic, and indeed plaintive, segments. And this works. Any good horror film has its frenetic sections, its “what’s happening next” periods as the story builds and the “No! They got Derek!” moment where everyone’s sad. Until the monster catches up with them again.
Kamikaze Zombie may have a slightly (!) silly name, but they don’t produce silly music.
Again, this one is out now. Give it a listen on Bandcamp (embedded below) from where you can also purchase it.