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New Zealand's melodic death/thrash metallers 8 Foot Sativa have reached their fifth full length album in 11 years. They already formed back in 1998, but it took five or so years to get their debut 'Hate Made Me' out. The self-released 'The Shadow Masters' came out a couple of months ago, and happened to be my first contact with the band's music, but with not the band's name. After all, they have grew to be on of the biggest metal bands from that beautiful island country.
This isn't any Tolkien-inspired stuff (the movies were filmed in NZ) or sludgy joint smoking soundtrack, but in many ways a brutal take on modern metal. This is heavily based on melodic death metal à la Gothenburgians, but also carry characteristics specific for the band. Another identifiable influence is metalcore, and a good example of that would be Trivium's polished sound. See, in the past 8FS used to sound closer to a death metal band, but on this album the sound is very polished. But more about the production later. So, 8FS utilize Gothenburg-ish guitar work. The final element is groove metal, which is rather small. Okay, this is well groovy throughout, but not fully groove metal.
The riffing is often more or less (usually more) familiar, but the lead guitar work is one of those elements, that give the band its character. Dramatic and melancholic melodies collide. Everything was tightly played. The drumming offers some fast double kick drumming, and gives the music good ooomph, as well as rumbling bass guitar. The vocals are varying. Growls and distorted screaming, typical to the genres, are broadly used. The clean vocals are somewhere between Trivium and nowadays' Annihilator. Some rhythmic vocalizations may go close to rapping, but still aren't about it. The lyrics are about feelings, power, war and death. Like the song titles manifest, illuminati plays a big part in the lyrics. Plus, the lyrics are not too typical babble, but much better.
On 'The Shadow Masters' the songs are rather short, and this works for the benefit of the music. The songs embody number of hooks each, but do not include too many parts. Definitely catchy and quick-acting, but the staying power might be something else. The band's performances are energetic and tight together, which is good, as the production is partly a bit tame, maybe a tad too polished. On the other hand, now it beautifully clear. Definitely more like thrash metal sound than death metal one.
Tight feel of both the music and the band is what makes 'The Shadow Masters' more than just another melodic death metal/metalcore platter. If you do not spit on modern music, I suggest you give these fellows some listening to, because in all familiarity there's also abundant character to 8 Foot Sativa.
(Originally written for ArchaicMetallurgy.com)