Tormenter – Prophetic Deceiver
Location: California, USA
Label: Static Tension Recordings
It seems the new wave of Thrash Metal that started a decade ago with the likes of Municipal Waste and Toxic Holocaust is alive and well. Prophetic Deceiver is Tormenter’s second full-length, and it continues in the tradition carved out by their west-coast brethren in Hatchet and Fueled by Fire: hyper-aggressive, go-for-the-throat playing done at insane velocities and produced dryly and violently. While some of the music in this style has been of a high-calibre and will doubtlessly become masterpieces in the genre (like Hatchet’s Dawn of the End) some releases haven’t been able to match up. This is the case with Prophetic Deceiver.
What the best modern albums in thrash were able to do that Tormentor didn’t was to bring in light and shade and humour and dynamics into their wholly uncompromising speed metal style. When you think of Municipal Waste’s Hazardous Mutation, you think of the fun side of the band, and which made it clear from the beginning that record’s primary purpose was to have fun and get the listener in on all the stupid jokes. Hatchet’s Dawn of the End awed the listener with its technical brilliance and melodic delivery despite it being possibly one of the fastest, cleanest thrash albums of the last 15 years. In listening to Tormenter, one doesn’t feel a true sense of fun or a sense of awe.
The musicianship in Prophetic Deceiver is fantastic; the whole band is out for blood, firing on all cylinders, but every song seems very serious and somehow relatively hookless. While it all makes an enjoyable listen, there are no real reasons to revisit the experience. With so many fantastic thrash albums having come out in the past few years from old and new bands alike, Prophetic Deceiver, for all of its merits, just doesn’t have enough going on to distinguish itself from the pack. If thrash is your great passion then this album is still a fantastic place to spend your metal dollar, but don’t come in looking for the next classic.
Behold! The Monolith – Architects of the Void
Location: California, USA
Stoner and doom metal can be a tricky crossover. Not because of wildly contrasting elements, but because of the potential redundancies. Behold! The Monolith manage to work around the similarities of the genres and produces a rather intriguing performance that delights and excites.
The album begins by immediately establishing the foreboding doom atmosphere with a mammoth weight and tempo that has some serious Black Sabbath inspiration. The feeling of impending disaster never leaves the sound and keeps the listener on the edge of his seat, biting at his fingernails. While maintaining a consistent atmosphere could result in a monotone performance, Architects of The Void is also interlaced with sections of stoner groove stained by the darker side of doom, creating terrifying riffs that demonstrate a high level of technical skill along with an expert sense of development. Also, the percussion is on point throughout, with sections that sound like the war drums of an approaching army, as well as faster tight sections that assault the ear drums in the best way.
My one complaint is that the vocals seem to be a little tuned back in the mix, but this seems to be intentional as they range from what feels like the manic shouts of a mad man in the distance, to whispered echoes floating in the wind. While this may make the vocals difficult to comprehend without a lyric booklet, it does fit in with the atmosphere of desperation and horror that the band has lovingly created.
Architects of The Void is an excellent album that builds a surreal atmosphere accompanied with vicious musical talent. The implementation of both stoner and doom elements is executed masterfully allowing both styles to shine on their own and to weave together. For any fans of the stoner and doom genres, Architects of The Void should not be ignored,
Simple Lies – Let it Kill
Location: Bologna, Italy
Label: Bakerteam Records
Let it Kill wastes no time in letting the listener know that he’s in for an in-your-face, powerful performance. The guitar immediately comes shredding in, riding on a thick bass line, and is backed by sturdy percussion. This strength does not run out for the entire play time of the album, which maintains high energy vibes, while also keeping the performance fresh and interesting within the vacuum of the album.
The vocals stick mostly to the higher pitches, sounding much like Tobias Sammet of Edguy, while following the methodology of “the higher the vocals, the better.” Group vocals are also thrown in here and there, producing a solid anthem feel that once again serves to fire up the listener and encourage audience participation during live shows.
The big issue for the album is that it doesn’t feel overly new or fresh in the grand scheme of metal. The sound overall is a mix between Annihilator’s pacing and tempo with Stratovarius’ atmosphere and power elements. Realistically, sounding like another band is not a big deal, especially considering the nearly endless amounts of material and influences that are available, but with the energy, and seemingly gleeful performance that Simple Lies produce, I was hoping to see something new and a little shocking.
While Simple Lies may not bring anything new to the table, what they do bring is still very enjoyable. Like an apple pie at a picnic, you’ve seen it a hundred times before, but it is still welcome. For anyone looking for a some new material to rock out to that sticks to tradition, Let it Kill may just be what you’re looking for.
The Green River Burial – Blight
Label: Bastardized Recordings
With only 2 tracks on this EP, the 50-second intro to “Armilus” does feel incredibly excessive. Although I’m not a fan of contrived intro tracks to EPs, I’m sure I’m not alone in finding this unrelated piece of music completely irrelevant in this release. I’m all for instrumental teasers to an EP or album when it enhances the feel of a song, but this feels like the band got together and thought, “Other core acts have pointless intros… we shall make one too!”
Having listening to The Green River Burial’s previous releases prior to checking out Blight, it would appear that the band’s sound has gotten messier. Throughout both tracks I felt like I was being attacked aurally with the audio equivalent of smoke and mirrors. An attempt to mask the fact that there is not actually all that much going on underneath.
“Dajjal” is the messiest musically of the two tracks, but does have quite a strong chorus. It’s slightly unfortunate that there is a strange flange effect on the vocals, but these do not ruin it as much as you would expect. I wouldn’t say they augment the chorus; but they don’t destroy it. The song ends with a fade out. If they can’t write the end of a song, I can’t think of a clever way to end this review.