Written by: Beaston Lane
Frigid rain falls through the canopy of a Scandinavian forest as the clearing fog reveals two opposing armies, each with unbreakable faith after paying tribute to their gods. A natural ambiance thicker than fortress walls separates the warriors as they each anticipate their leader’s call to charge. What I’m describing isn’t necessarily the beginning of a medieval battle, rather the vivid atmosphere that introduces Vampire’s mighty third record, Rex. This feeling of anticipation builds during the interlude entitled “Prelusion,” and at its sudden conclusion, the armies charge as the carnage of Rex is unleashed upon us all.
Rooted in mythology, Rex is a hellish journey through chaos and serenity. Juxtaposing high-octane thrashers and sneering mid-tempo odysseys, the album showcases the band’s versatility and highlights the demonic vocals of Hand of Doom, the lead vocalist. Existing at the intersection of classic thrash metal, melodic death metal, and modern black metal, Vampire is a three-headed monster which utilizes these influences to create an engrossing and unique listening experience. While not every song can boast of being truly memorable, Rex is a bold statement from a young band destined to continue their ascension through the metal ranks.
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
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: The Administrator
First things first: Fullmåne's Lurking in the dark is a lo-fi affair--the rawest application of punk-infused black metal you're likely to find whilst trawling through the underground. This is, indeed, a self-described "dark and dirty snapshot of night time drifting, paranoia and drugs." As such, it's only appropriate that we acclimate ourselves accordingly. Prior to starting in, then, let me find my scratchiest quill, my faintest ink, and my poorest quality parchment. I'll remove my cloak as well--better to write with the lingering threat of frostbite. Oh, and let me shut off the lantern for good measure. In the case of today's EP in question, I think it would be better if I worked by the light of the moon.
There, that's settled. Now I'm ready. Are you ready? Good.
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.
After long last, we slumbering peasantry arise, back with another edition of our neglected Sleeping Village Sampler.
For those of you not in the know, this is our (regrettably infrequent) column wherein we review, in brief, two of the bands that have escaped the clutches of a full length writeup. There's a lot of underground stuff wailing incessantly from the ol' inbox, and, as this particular scribe has made a concerted effort as of late to listen to bands who don't necessarily benefit from label support, the bigger releases have kinda been getting the short end of the stick. Rather than devoting the time, then, to reviewing these two albums in full, I'll just throw out my general thoughts and we can call it a day. Sound good? Good.
Taking a card from the band in question’s deck, we’re jumping over the typical long-winded intro you’ve undoubtedly come to expect ‘round these parts. Today it’s straight into the fray as we fire up another rotation of Restructure the Molded Mind, the third effort from Bay Area death thrashers Hemotoxin. Let's pulverize a blood vessel or two, shall we?
Hemotoxin's approach recalls a wide variety of bands from the primordial days of thrash-infused death metal--the era where experimentation into increasingly violent and technical territory represented, for good reason, the heights of innovation. Instrumentally, they hit (with a varying degree of accuracy) that vague point on the thrash metal timeline right after Death came a-knocking.
Autumn was a brief affair here at the Sleeping Village, and now that rime coats our beards and the snow has unceremoniously de-robed the trees, we slumbering scribes are all set to slip into hibernation for the next five months or so.
But! To combat said lethargy before it truly sets in, I, in all my administration authority, bequeathed our archivist to trawl through our overstuffed mailcart for something worthy of our collective attention. When he emerged, Galaxy’s sci-fi inspired debut EP clutched in white-knuckled grasp, I was confident we had, at very least, an approximation of a winner. And so here we are, blasting Lost From the Start ‘till our lids droop. Feel free to join in the festivities.
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!