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Almost 30 years after the creation of the Bay Area thrash metal scene, one would have to wonder, in this day and age, would there be any more true, brutal, heavy thrash bands in existence? And I don’t mean the influx of newer thrash bands, where only a few and far between good acts permeate within the rip-off-fest headed by the WARBRINGERs of the world. I mean good, crazy, rip-roarin’ THRASH that shoves riffs and double-bass drums down your throat, the way it should be.
Like this, for instance.
Now, don’t get me wrong, even us old timers can still latch onto the equally older gentlefolk in SLAYER, EXODUS, TESTAMENT, and KREATOR, among a few others, for our thirst quenching, but for an equally heavy but different take on head-banging, the latest BLOOD TSUNAMI does NOT disappoint. Decapitating thrash with a dash of melody and a pinch of death metal comes cascading from the speakers like so many brimstone meteors from the charred and bleeding heavens on Judgment Day, where miles-an-hour riffs, slashing guitars, twisted solo work, galloping drums and venomous snarls showcase a band totally in their element and moment, enjoying the ever-loving hell out of their place in the underground spectrum. There’s plenty to enjoy in this seven-track craze-fest, where the likes of “Castle of Skulls”, “Personal Exorcism” and “Laid to Waste” thrust the listener head-long into an ever-burning inferno of chaos. Yes, it’s that heavy and worth the over-indulgence of symbolism.
In the end I really liked this new BLOOD TSUNAMI recording. It reminds me of when riffs were big, poseurs were beaten within an inch of their lives, and violence what metal was all about. Hail and kill.
Blood Tsunami is a norse band, Grand Feast for Vultures is their sophomore album and the band is notable for a few reasons: singer Pete Evil is the host for MTV Norway's Headbanger's Ball, and drummer Bård G. Faust is recognized from many of his former bands (Emperor, Thorns, Scum, Aborym, etc).
Blood Tsunami is also one of those bands which insists on wearing its heart too openly upon its sleeve. They are 'thrash metal' and they clearly want you to know it! The previous album was fucking TITLED Thrash Metal, and the first lyrics on opener "Evil Unleashed" on this album are 'Thrash metal...' before a pastiche of cliches from 80s thrash albums like Slayer, Sodom and Destruction. All of this might truly render my enjoyment to shreds if the band wasn't so good in its delivery here. Energetic, riffing blackish/thrash metal with a load of vitriol, always breaking down at the right moment. I am reminded of earlier Maze of Torment or Bewitched with a bolder production.
Most of the tracks are faster paced and exciting, their vocals a mix of deeper grunts and cloying snarls. There is the marching opening to "Personal Exorcism", and the melodic barrage of "Nothing But Contempt" which stand out, but the truly great moments of the album come during its final two tracks, which are quite long for this style (one over 12, the other 10 minutes). In particular "One Step Closer to the Grave" impresses with its vile metal blues, only rarely picking up the pace for a lead though there is some sick double bass work in there.
Grand Feast for Vultures is a decent album, building off the debut. It has a few flaws, but these are primarily in the lyrics. They don't suck by any means, but anyone spending a Saturday afternoon mining and paraphrasing lines from their collection of mid 80s thrash metal albums could do a comparable job. Thankfully after the opening track they don't continue to beat you over the head with the 'thrash metal' shtick. We got it the first time around I think. In the end, I haven't enjoyed this album as much as I enjoy bands like Maze of Torment, Aura Noir or Audiopain who approach this mix with a raw authenticity, but Blood Tsunami are a more energetic outfit who are placed for success if the retro thrash really takes off, and this is a decent effort musically.
Blood Tsunami are most notable for being the current home of Faust, the original Emperor drummer imprisoned in the mid-90's for homicide in the period the Norwegian black metal scene was making headline news across numerous countries, and were formed shortly after his release around 2004. Rather than going back to the BM sound and scene though the newly created band is very much in the vein of the classic 80's thrash wave; perhaps not the most original now but Blood Tsunami's take on it is more genuine and profound than most others doing the same thing at the moment. Their debut album in 2007 was entitled "Thrash Metal" - 'nuff said.
"Grand Feast For Vultures"' take on the formula revolves around the heavier end of the thrash scale unlike contemporaries Evile, Gama Bomb and the like who you could say sit in the middle of the thrash league of extremity. A meaty clear production and a vocal style utilising a combination of mid-level growls and some shrieking still sits "Grand Feast..." in the league of thrash but with strong allegiances to Kreator, both old and new, and Faust's pedal-heavy drum tactics it is primarily going to be an album for someone who generally gets along better with death and black metal than for those whom thrash represents their pinnacle of brutality. On top of this, Blood Tsunami are very competent musicians all round, and this shows most evidently in the long periods without vocals, notably the 12 minute instrumental "Horsehead Nebula", which features some classic metal-style twin lead guitar action, as well as just in the meat and bones of the title track and the Slayer-esque thrash of "Castle of Skulls".
You'd have gotten long odds on betting that the aforementioned lengthy instrumental track would stand out as the album's highlight but that is exactly what has happened here as "Horsehead Nebula" is extremely well constructed and through various changes of scenery never feels like the 12 minutes that it represents. Through avoiding the cliches of the scene holding back many of the current US and British thrash bands Blood Tsanumi have produced an album worthy of the attention that was always going to come their way with Faust in the ranks and "Grand Feast..." can stand amongst the finest thrash albums of the decade, up alongside the likes of Testament's "The Gathering", an album equally single-minded in it's intent and ability to pull off the musical intentions of it's creators so capably. The result is an excellent listen and one in a position that should be of entertainment to a large snapshot of the metal world.
Originally written for Rockfreaks.net
Blood Tsunami’s sophomore effort is caught between two extremes. On one hand, the songwriting is perfectly fine; they know how to write good riffs and the musicianship is excellent, with the only truly poorly-written song in my opinion was the 13-minute instrumental Eceladus Rising, which has some good parts but just felt aimless overall. Unfortunately, the guitars just aren’t heavy enough for this material to work fully; for most of the album, there’s a distinct lack of the oomph that thrash metal needs to succeed. Instead of playing their songs in a brutally heavy style, the guitarists just glide along like a poorly animated CGI monster that’s far too agile for its size; there’s little sense of weight to these songs, however well constructed they are.
Compounding the problem is that the vocalist sings in a style that suits death metal more than Blood Tsunami’s brand of melo-thrash (and the backing vocals are even harsher). The contrast between the relatively light, melodic riffs and the growling vocals hurts the material greatly. That said, Grand Feast of Vultures is far from being a horrible album; it’s tightly played and never bogs down in repetition. It’s just that its limitations are highly disappointing and could be easily remedied by making it heavier.
Originally posted at metal-jerks.com