Written by: Tales_of_Deception
The beginning of my journey with metal started nearly two decades ago. Possessed, Testament, Overkill and Death were my life force at the time. I was a strapping young lad with zero spark on what my future would hold. All I knew was that I enjoyed the hell out of the bands mentioned above and couldn't get enough of them. As time went on, I slowly experimented with different genres of music and for some reason, the passion I had for pure thrash metal or head crushing death just sort of went the fuck out of the window. Flash forward to present day and I may have found the saving grace that has more potential to drag me out of the pits when it comes to thrash/death metal than I've heard in nearly a decade.
Suffering In Diseases is the debut record from Germany's own Toxic Trap. At first listen, I was a little on the boarder of "really enjoying this record" and "it could use some work in spaces". By the end, I was in bliss and didn't want to come out of whatever I was in. The opening track, "Black Death," really hits the nail on the head when it comes to embracing the roots of the founding fathers of thrash. A slow melodic, creeping intro for a mere 30-seconds is what you get until the flesh from your ears is ripped apart from the throttling bass and addictive speed of the drums. It might start there but it most definitely does not end at that point. Track by track Toxic Trap does everything they can to hold the listeners attention.
To be honest, it seems that they have it all figured out. When it's time for one track to end and the next to begin, you prepare yourself for the same thing on repeat for damn near 47-minutes. At least that's usually the case with most of the thrash/death records I've heard in the past. Spoiler alert! Suffering In Diseases isn't that! It's a record that can be repeated a hundred times on a loop and you will hear something brand new every single time. Just look at the track below, "Burned To Death." It's a whirlpool of destruction that consistently slaps you right in the fucking mouth but then graciously doctors the wounds it just pounded into your skull. Best of both worlds, right?
In closing, the thought and depth that the guys from Toxic Trap put into this whole project is very welcomed and loved, at least by me. All the words in the world couldn't begin to explain how pleased I am with this record as a whole. From front to back and every inch in between, this record is exactly what I want from a thrash/death record, if you couldn't tell from the above paragraphs. Don't take my opinion for facts, give it a listen and support it if you enjoy it.
Country of Origin: Germany | Genres: Thrash/Death Metal | Record Type: Full-Length | Release Date: September, 2018
We here at the Sleeping Village don't like to pull punches, so here is the hard truth: Summoned To Rise kicks ass like none other, and I mean this in a genuinely physical sense. Create A Kill days qualify, unequivocally, as back-and-shoulder days. If you think I’m being coy, ask my post-headbang upper torso. After a year largely devoid of thrash that gives a damn, it’s been a stark relief to be thrown around, mercilessly, by this Floridian outfit’s worthy experiment in revivalism.
Create A Kill brings talent from a veritable who’s who of thrash and death royalty. Gus Rios, Daniel Gonzalez, and Alex Marquez? Check. Dirk Verbueren and Tobias Gustafsson show up too? You bet. Even Matt Harvey lends his laryngitic vox to the mix. These boys know how to write great thrash metal--and, even more impressively, this supergroup avoids spoiling the broth despite a bevy of talented cooks in the kitchen.
Sodom, Possessed, and Burton-era Metallica remain primary points of comparison, but at the end of the day, some aspect of your favorite thrashers has undoubtedly ended up in this delightful mosh. In the vein of their progenitors, Create A Kill deals in wildly rambunctious riffage. Possessing a runaway train momentum and lightening-quick pugilism, the axemanship on display exists, seemingly, to bust heads. In these able hands, it’s safe to say that shred ain’t dead. That said, a distinct willingness to slow things down to a mid-tempo groove keeps things from falling into the repetitive slurry that all-too-oft plagues modern attempts at thrash. But yet, guitar doesn’t solely hold this album together. Offering a seismic edge and a brutal drive, the drums provide an consistently aggressive rhythmic background. Marquez on vocals is utterly belligerent in the best of ways, recalling both the venomous bark of Demolition Hammer’s Steve Reynolds, and Angelripper’s frantically lurching cadence.
As a unit, Summoned To Rise is remarkably well-conceived--as one who typically finds albums to be excessive in their length, I find myself holding my battered body upright in abject appreciation. Create A Kill are veterans in the field, and a significant aspect of that professionalism is illustrated in their focus and ability to trim the fat. Some weaker moments are evident, but for days, I’ve been asking myself if they are less issues with Create A Kill specifically, and more the state of thrash metal in general. A lack of solos is worth mentioning, but thrash ultimately brings to mind neck-crunching riffage as the primary means to an end. That said, there is a moment on Crave The Blade in particular where a solo disappointingly falls back into the fold after several deliciously anguished notes.
Lyrically, there’s little to write home about. Decimate, for example, essentially comprises a verbose hitman’s laundry list. This album is littered with awkward turns of visceral phrase, with the band name itself being a prime example. But! Isn’t this why us thrashers tune in, time and time again? Sodom’s Agent Orange, a shining example of the genre’s capacities, is a syntactic disaster. Anthrax, with the gift of hindsight, delivered a very competent and enjoyable album in 2016’s For All Kings--and yet, it largely reads like angsty margin ramblings. I can honestly think of very few thrash albums that truly exude quality lyricism, and, as such, when taken in the larger context, Create A Kill’s stylings seems a nonexistent issue--and indeed, a paradoxically honorific triumph.
The sheer fact that Summoned To Rise consistently brings to mind the work of the greats isn’t reflective of Create A Kill’s shortcomings, but rather their true strength. The soul of thrash isn’t the easiest to tap, but here we are, imbibing on high-octane ichor. Besides lending a general optimism to the future of thrashy offerings, this album comes, needless to say, highly recommended. Don’t miss out.
Given a proclivity towards the general aesthetic of the holiday, this particular Sleeping Villager has spent these days after Hallow’s Eve in the pursuit of an appropriately visceral soundtrack. Something to maintain a healthy dose of terror in the hearts of my neighbors. Preferably something bloody & skeletal, wearing nothing but the tattered, mildew’d remains of a bygone era. Is that too much to ask? Of course not, because when one asks Rotted Life Records for the goods, Rotted Life delivers, serving death metal delicacies on a maggoty platter. Today we’re dissecting (& digesting) Imitation, the forthcoming 3-track demo from Bay Area death thrashers Laceration.
In the grand scheme of things, the return of Laceration from the dreaded precipice of Everlasting Hiatus has not been a pressing issue in my music listening existence. Their prior efforts (2 demos + an EP + a split,) while by no means bad, is uniformly characterized by a certain quality--let’s call it “aggressively run-of-the-mill.” Despite eliciting some impromptu headbanging, these early efforts are like going to the same haunted house for the 3rd or 4th time. You know it's supposed to be edgy & scary, but predictable jump scares & an absent element of surprise makes for little more than an exercise in averages. Before you jump ship now, let me be clear: I only speak this harshly of so that it's painfully obvious how good their triumphant return actually is. Experiencing Imitation is like going to that same haunted house, only to find that the that the chainsaw-wielding hobo isn’t a paid actor, & that the spring-loaded skeletons have been replaced by genuine cadavers. Here, the stench of rotting flesh overpowers the sticky-sweetness of fake blood. Laceration, in other words, just got...real.
At the end of the day, this isn’t complex stuff, & for that, I love it. Sonically, listen for the calculated immediacy of Mortal Throne-era Incantation, combined with the thrashy sensibilities of Skeletal Remains or Demolition Hammer. Aesthetically, Laceration clearly takes inspiration from a wide gamut of late 80’s, early 90’s death, so in short, there is no shortage of viscera here. Take the title (& opening) track as a prime example--before we’re treated to an evisceration via jackhammer blasts & thunderous riffage, we’re witness to, well, an evisceration. An appropriate opening act, if ever there was. Granted, all this would fall into the bucket of been there, done that, but for several particularities.
Firstly, despite the gory ambiance, Laceration prove remarkably steady-handed surgeons. While many bands on the thrashy end of the death spectrum tend to play fast ‘n’ loose, these boys don’t mess around when it comes to precision. This holds particularly true in the case of Donnie Small’s blistering(ly brief) solos, the sheer intensity of which still catches me off guard 15+ listens later. Also of note is Mike Simon, who pounds the skins with the intensity & precision both of a talented newcomer with something to prove, & an experienced veteran with a reputation to maintain.
Secondly, Laceration can compose a song outside the bounds of a standard slaughterfest. Take (highlight track) Weaponized Dominion as a prime example. Despite a fairly standard structure, in under 4 minutes we’re treated to a full array of abilities, with a short bassy breakdown, thrashy riffage galore, squealing leads, & a particularly punishing chorus. It doesn’t get much better.
On Imitation, Laceration has excelled at trimming the fat. As a result, each (remarkably talented) member is given the appropriate time to shine, & this 3 track demo leaves us wishing for more. Despite the unfortunate brevity, I’ll keep coming back to this haunted house, season after season. Fear not.
Some demos are rough ‘round the edges, & that is to be expected--but this statement should, under no circumstances, be taken to imply that Soul Grinder’s debut effort is somehow incomplete or unintentionally unfinished. Rather, I’m suggesting that instead of accepting a certain roughness as inevitable, these Portland-based thrashers tied their debut EP to the mast, broke out the trusty ol’ cat-o-nines, & lashed away until there weren’t any tangible edges left. Terraflesh is a wounded & angry beast of an EP, & Soul Grinder has made evident that they are not, in fact, here to mess around.
Vocals are the obvious first stop on our trip down Soul Grinder lane. At first blush, the wild-eyed April “Prilzor” Dimmick recalls Benatar at her sticky-sweetest. This carpet is promptly & elegantly pulled out, however, as she switches gears into a significantly more visceral affair. On first-round listens here at the Village, our monkish librarian astutely remarked that for any lovers of medieval literature Prilzor’s shriekish tone is like unto the vox of Grendel’s mother: grisly, rageful, tortured. Her true strength, however, is the uncanny ability to switch between a sensual croon to throat shredding howls within the span of a syllable. As the most effortless display of musicianship Soul Grinder has to offer, it lends a certain bent to the entire package. But that ain’t all to love.
Instrumentally, the guitar is clunky ‘n’ chunky, full of hooky leads & (combat) boot-stomping riffs. Timing feels a tad rushed in parts, but that is, undeniably, part of the appeal. As I mentioned several weeks ago, Soul Grinder a just a little discordant, but a whole lot unhinged--& that’s the entire reason we seek out such thrashy ‘n’ groovy tunage. In other words, we’re not here for precision. We’re here for chaos, & in this sense, axeman Alex Avery absolutely delivers. With that said, there are the occasional moments of pure NWOBHM fervor--take, for example, the intro on Hound of Doom, which strongly recalls both Maiden’s trademark gallop & Priest’s leather-clad badassery. Despite the outward appearance of wild abandon, Mr. Kevin Ross does a fantastic job holding everything together in the rhythm section, with drums on the title track worth particular mention. Aggressive & dense, a delightfully bonky moment in the spotlight helps break up the template.
I do, as the critic in the room, have a small bone to pick with the songwriting. The EP starts out with its best foot forward, & is, as a result, pretty frontheavy. Towards the end, it feels like difference in delivery--the singsong chorus on Iron Crone, for example--is what keeps the individual tracks distinct, rather than a more fluid & exploratory approach to composition. While not truly a significant issue here, adopting more break-the-pattern moments might prevent stagnation further down the line. But to reiterate, Terraflesh is an effort where sheer energy, not needle-threading precision, is the name of the game. As an embodiment of heavy metal’s bloody take-no-prisoners ethos, this flayed monstrosity of a demo comes highly recommended.
A certain groggy-eyed, highfalutin' peasantry