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Although I could never call myself a full-fledged fan of the style, there’s always been a shade of thrash metal that I can’t seem to get enough of. More specifically, it’s always been the technical, or progressive side of the genre that I’ve found most appealing. Joining bands such as Vektor in the most recent wave of prog thrash is Alitor, a band with some of the most potential I’ve come across in my recent listening. Voivod and latter-era Death are both major players in Alitor’s sound, and if you’re a fan of either, then you’re bound to dig what this Serbian quartet has to offer.
“Embittered” sits at just under sixteen minutes in length, and though three songs isn’t much to base a band’s worth on, Alitor demonstrate a firm grasp of composition and technique. Whereas many thrash bands (even well-known ones) can consider themselves lucky to excel at even one of these traits, Alitor are very balanced in the way they sport their talent. Although the galloping pace and attitude typical of thrash metal is here, the riffs here often dive into technical territory usually reserved for progressive metal. This progressive edge is then contrasted with more typical thrash elements; galloping rhythms and aggressive vocalwork are both fairly textbook for the genre, and while Alitor are bound to conjure some easy comparisons to the classic 1980’s thrash canon, there’s never the feeling that the band are drawing too deeply from the well of their influences.
Death is the big influence at work within the band’s sound. Particularly with regards to “The Sound of Perseverance”, the futuristic guitar tone and way Alitor shape their riffs is a sharp nod in the direction of Chuck Schuldiner. The heavier material from progressive metallers Canvas Solaris is also a good place to start when comparing the direction of this band. Instrumentally, Alitor are already at the top of their game, and considering their youth, I can only imagine things will get better. As one might expect, the vocals are the less impressive aspect of the band’s sound. Caught somewhere between a higher-range death growl, and gruff clean vocal, Marko Todorović aggressive bark is pretty much par for the thrash metal style. Although it doesn’t impede enjoyment of the instrumentation, it feels just a little too generic to achieve the same ‘face-melt’ level as the rest of the band’s musical ingredients. Productionwise, Alitor has an organic-yet-refined sound that rivals and even surpasses many of the genre’s flagship bands. Everything can be heard with clarity, and the production retains the sort of bite I would expect from hearing the band live.
It’s one thing to know how to shred or ‘melt faces’, but it’s something else altogether to have that skill and have the self-restraint to filter it through teamwork and composition. I await a full-length eagerly.