Written by: Blackie Skulless
Wow, talk about a much needed attack of chaotic thrash played in the traditional format! Beekeeper hail from San Diego, and have been around since 2010. Though their first record Slaves To The Nothing was technically released back in 2017, they’re re-pressing it to many vinyl variants as well as CD in May of this year, which is how it was brought to my attention. From the gate, I can tell this is very much going to be loved or hated depending on the set of ears, because of its grating delivery.
The selling factor is the frontwoman’s piercing vocal style blended with unconventional riffing patterns that still never leave the thrash boundaries. This sets itself apart from the typical outing of its type. I for one love it; her vocals vary significantly. Shrieks that fire far above the mix (think Carmine Blades from Seax) bounce around lower hurls of force, which is such a unique approach. Moreover, the bass guitars coat the riffing to boost the levels of intensity everywhere. Thus, the finished product is overly energetic from front to back.
Written by: Blackie Skulless
The third full-length offering by Vanik somewhat came out of nowhere, but seeing how much I liked Vanik II: Dark Season, this became a priority. Simply titled III (or Vanik III), it delivers more of what they’re great at. Since the beginning, Shaun Paul Vanek and Co. have delivered hefty blasts of heavy/speed metal residing on the rustier side. Picture something like Venom but not quite as abrasive--or in other words, lose the blackened atmosphere.
A notable difference that could be spotted right away is the cleanliness of the riffs and even the vocals a bit here. Though still raspy, the layering is better placed to allow every part to stand out in its own merit, even if it loses a little bit of the bass prominence from before. That also forces room for a tiny drop of melody boost and passages that feel a bit more comprehensive. No worries though, because you still don’t lose that spooky undertow that coats everything this band does.
Written by: Shane Thirteen
Gravehuffer! If you haven't heard of this mid-west juggernaut, you will in the near future. They hail from Joplin Missouri, and if you have ever been to Joplin in this century you will know that it is famous for a few things. The first: almost being wiped off the map by a giant widow maker tornado in 2011. The second thing its is known for, far and wide, are the "Spook Lights," an active and annual documented haunting of a nearby farmer's meadow in the area.
What does this have to do with Gravehuffer, you may ask? Imagine, if you will, growing up in a place known for killer tornadoes and dead things literally walking the Earth outside your fucking city. Just milling about. Ya know, like the dead do. So lets examine the name for a moment. Gravehuffer. To huff or to breathe in the rotting putridness of a grave or corpse. To take in to your sinus cavity the rancid smell of rotting flesh. The stank of the dead, as it were.
But what else makes Gravehuffer sound as they do? Undoubtedly some good ol' mid-west oppression from the religious class and a healthy dose of knowing what is on the wrong side of the tracks. Why do I bring all this up? Why is all this prudent to explain Gravehuffer? You have to understand the mid-west mindset to fully understand what these geniuses are doing. What comes together in the middle of the country to influence heavy music fans and musicians? Everything. Everything American, culture-wise, flows to the center. We get it all. Gravehuffer is a regional band for me. I have seen them live a few times. They are solid dudes. Scene leaders undoubtedly. Gravehuffer is the perfect example of culture conglomeration. There are many hybrid bands out there these days, but Gravehuffer is one of those units that brings together everything from punk, thrash, death, and doom to deliver an entirely different vibe and sound to metal. That being said...if you are a fan of heavy you will love what Gravehuffer is bringing to the light of the world: pure Heavy Metal.
Black Doomba Records is releasing NecroEclosion January 15th, 2021, and you better sit down when you listen to it for the first time. Strap in: you are about to go on a trip you won't regret. There a few surprises on this album. I have it looping on my speakers for a while now, and every time I listen to it I find something new. Horns (not Dio horns, but as in brass horns!) Horns in metal? I have never heard it successfully pulled off until Gravehuffer did it on this album. Completely surprised.
Speaking of surprises: spoiler Alert! Gravehuffer has enlisted some heavy hitters as guest players on this album. Voivod's Dan “Chewy” Mongrain and Curran Murphy of Annihilator and Nevermore. If you are fans of any of those bands it is worth your time and effort to own a piece of their history, and history it will make. I fully expect NecroEclosion to launch Gravehuffer to the next level. They have elevated their game. The work done on this album is everything I need out of fast and heavy metal. In my old age I gravitate more towards the stoner doom. But having seen these guys live I knew what was coming. They have delivered something unique. It has covered every heavy metal base for me, including making fun of dance music, which is one of my favorite hobbies. To sum it up: it's all here, kids. Humor, fantasy, thrash, speed, death, hardcore, punk rock, sample babble.
Gravehuffer has something for every fan of heavy and aggressive music. Track them down. Find them on all social media platforms. Smash the like button. On Jan. 15th, share NecroEclosion with your friends.
Gravehuffer - NecroEclosion will be released Jan. 15th, 2021 from Black Doomba Records.
Back in April, we ran a very abbreviated review of this album. However, given its prominence--and the prominence of the legacy act in question--it feels deserving of a full writeup. Enjoy! - Ed.
Written by: Beaston Lane
Testament has dealt with many ups and downs throughout the course of their 30-plus year career, but their 13th release continues a hot streak that began with 2008’s comeback record, The Formation of Damnation. Once again, the band showcases their mastery of all things thrash metal, exploring their usual mystical, mythological, and dystopian themes. Longtime fans of Testament will find much to enjoy on this record, but it certainly won’t extend an olive branch to those on the fence.
Regarded as one of the finest thrash metal bands since their 1987 debut, The Legacy, Testament’s exceptional career eventually hit an impasse. After 1992’s The Ritual, the band descended into turmoil, with constantly changing personnel on the three following albums and palpable stylistic shifts. In 2001, Chuck Billy was diagnosed with cancer, effectively putting the band on hiatus until his recovery. Since Testament’s original lineup reunited in 2005, they have joined the ranks of Overkill as one of the most consistent bands in thrash metal, putting out solid records about every four years since 2008. That pattern doesn’t falter in 2020.
Written by: Blackie Skulless
Chemicide are an interesting bunch of Costa Rican thrashers. They grew on me a lot because I thought their first album Episodes Of Insanity was incredibly boring and generic. But as they progressed, they got better. Inequality is their third effort, which dropped last year, and I see this as the band finding their sound. They capitalized on blending this aggressive attitude on world injustices and corruption, which made for an awesome outcome.
Part of this growth was figuring out how to utilize repetition for stronger bridges and setting the mood. “Conditioned Liberty” utilizes this with looping solos, pressing harder kicks and lashes to follow that. On the smoother side of things, we also get songs like “Altered Reality” that drive the repetitive licks into a rhythm-dense tune. That then allows room for more vocal clarity, which has such a nasty snarl. This song in particular has a rather steady backbone, so it’s a neat contrast.
Written by: The Administrator
While there are undoubtedly a few proverbial bats in our belfry, the Sleeping Village doesn’t have a bat-signal...per se. What we do have, however, is a decrepit husk of a bellringer who lives at the top of our (similarly decrepit) tower. When said warden of the bells yearns for the sweet strains of raw blackened fury--something to drown out the ol' incessant ringing--he lights his brightest lantern and waits, earnestly, in hope that someone will heed his call. Luckily for him, Wisconsin's own paragon of the New Wave of US Black Metal was waiting in the wings.
That's right, folks: Vredensdal is back--after a very short break, no less. The Tyrant Shade is here. No rest for the wicked, as they say.
Written by: The Administrator
Riddle me this: does anyone with a love of thrash and/or speed metal really require any sort of ulterior recommendation in order to take a new thrash and/or speed release out for a quick spin? It's a genre that plays fast 'n' loose by definition, so take our stuffy two cents on this split with a grain of salt.
Intro adequately dispensed with, let's dive right into that oh-so-sweet Speed Armageddon. Are ye familiar with Wraith and Bastardizer? If no, you probably should be. Wraith, for one, took my personal 2019 Albums of the Year list by storm with their stellar sophomoric Absolute Power. Said album was (and is) an absolute barn-burner of an effort, characterized by a pedal-to-the-metal approach to wild riffage and wilder vocals. In our review, I stated that "I went into Absolute Power expecting an absolute ripper, and that's exactly what I got." Hold that thought for later, cuz' spoiler: I feel the same exact way in regards to this split. Bastardizer is an outfit I have admittedly less experience with, although a dive into their discography has resulted in some sustained headbanging 'round these parts. These Aussies traditionally lean a little more into the thrash 'n' roll side of the spectrum--rollicking and high-octane momentum abounds, with gritty aggression that's a little more Midnight and a little less Deathhammer. Bottom line is that both acts are choice cuts in the speed/thrash arena, and this 15 minute collaboration is but another feather in their respective caps.
Written by: Blackie Skulless
Bursting out of Belgium comes Evil Invaders, one of those bands that teeters the lines of thrash and speed metal that took form a little over a decade ago. Their latest album Feed Me Violence dropped back in 2017, and has since ended up being a total grower of a record. I say that because it starts out sounding like your typical speed metal that tries to rip-off Painkiller riffs with dashes of Overkill-isms. Before too long, they prove themselves otherwise.
The speedier tracks aren’t bad by any stretch. Although the album bounces back and forth between these songs and the more intriguing crawlers, this style is let on little by little as the disc progresses. “Oblivion” intertwines the two by injecting an epic crawl that rolls into one of the fastest tunes, showcasing their speed side the greatest heights. Others like the title track are solid enough, but this isn’t where I think the band shines the brightest.
Written by: Volt Thrower
Canada has been on a tear with its metal releases so far this year. Alberta specifically has been a hotbed for heavy lately. Whether you want genre bending devastation of the stunning Wake Devouring Ruin release, or some mind numbingly heavy stoner doom in Highbernation's Comatokes, chances are you can find something to scratch that itch in-province.
Now you might be saying, “I'm actually in the mood for some trad-heavy, maybe some NWOBHM speed stuff.” If so, gather ‘round weary reader, for the local village Journeyman has the release for you. Termination Shock, recently released through Gates of Hell Records, is the second full-length from Calgary speed rockers Traveler.
Written by: The Voiceless Apparition
I have to be brutally honest, I'm not the world's biggest thrash metal fan. There was a time from ages 8-14 where I was absolutely obsessed with thrash--I refused to listen to anything else, and I eventually burned myself out. That's not to say that I don't enjoy thrash and still look for new bands, but there are other genres I tend to listen to more.
And that leads us to Warbringer. They are the exception. Warbringer is easily my favorite "new" thrash band, and I'd go as far as to say that they are the best modern thrash band around. Their last album Woe to the Vanquished was a career highlight and saw the band even sharper than ever with a razorblade to the throat of their thrash metal roots, but all the while expanding upon their extreme metal and progressive influences. And here we are with Weapons of Tomorrow. Do the band continue on their trajectory of their roots-conscious but expansive and extreme thrash metal attack? Let's dive in.
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!