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Well, wouldn't you know, Sweden conquered again. Just when I was beginning to think thrash had completely lost all its relevance and vicious bite, components wearing painfully thin in this flock since its peak years in the late eighties, this upstart band Antichrist and their almost purposefully cliched moniker has unleashed this shocking abomination of evil known only as Forbidden World. One needs only to look at the (in my opinion) awesome cover art and the song titles to figure out what's in store for the listener here. No, don't call it revitalist thrash metal; this isn't the overly produced and formulaic material offered by Metallic/Exodus lite bands like Havok and Evile; this a forty-three minute torrent of utter musical chaos set to pulverize any poseurs who dare come too close and demolish any living thing foolish enough to get in its way--the greatest metal album of a great year that just kinda snuck in and took the crown while no one was looking.
As one might expect by the dark vibes of the lyrics, Antichrist is more firmly rooted in the scarier German side of all things thrash, and the violent, noisy nature of the actual music strongly reflects that. Hints of early Kreator are strong with this one, though the speed is often a tad less jarring and the album a great deal more melodic in turn. I would compare it to the controlled onslaught of Coma of Souls if Antichrist didn't sound so hostile here, as if they were wild, bloodthirsty hounds just a chain link away from breaking free and tearing their cruel human captors limb from limb. Just listen to the chilling vocals; are they the sound of a simple man's sinister screamed rasps, or the product of a demented soul tortured for all existence? I could hardly tell the difference, Steken presenting his panicked, frenzied phrasing like a speed demon freak from within the heart of Hades.
They don't screw around when it comes to delivering the riffs, either. There's admittedly little technically astounding about the guitar-playing, but I dare anyone to sit still when a full-on blitz like "Torment of Hell" engulfs your system. It's mostly delivered in a fast but intelligible manner, only slowing in truly epic numbers like eight minute tracks "Necropolis" and "Minotaur," the former bearing a verse rhythm to die for and latter being an instrumental anthem that never loses your attention even in its trying length. Every element of the sound is drenched in low-fi tones, mesmerizing in its commitment to being as 'pure' as possible in its relentless pursuit of capturing a bygone era without losing any of its own songwriting elegance. Oh, and these songs are about as memorable as they come. It'll only take a few listens before you start making yourself look like an idiot shouting along to its many unforgettable lines. Don't believe me? Try for yourself.
Yes, Antichrist is firmly rooted in the old school. There's no getting around that fact and it absolutely bleeds through into the music. They're not afraid to worship Kreator, Destruction, Assassin, of Morbid Saint any less than your next throwaway "retro" thrash band is. However, unlike most bands in this oversaturated genre today, this band's fearlessness doesn't stop at pummeling the listener into an insurmountable void of unconsciousness; and, although I respect what they do, that's not something I could say for similar groups like Vektor. This is an album that represents everything great about thrash in a nifty package suitable for the new century. Yep, Forbidden World really is that good. Doubters of grandiose statements better turn away now. It's the best thrash album of the millennium thusfar (by far) in this reviewer's not so humble opinion, and the most satisfying debut offering in years. You just don't know how much you need it.
P.S.: You might want to pick up some medications for the neck and back pain this album will inevitably cause. Phew, I'm dizzy; time for a break.