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Stalagmite of Ice is the debut of the three-piece thrash metal outfit Insinnerator from Dallas, Texas. While not being a big fan of pure and uncut thrash metal myself, I have to say listening to this record was an enjoyable experience. Insinnerator is not a typical new wave cookie-cutter thrash act in the scene, and this record really displays their musical prowess.
Before I address the music itself, I first want to talk about the production. The overall sound is awesomely raw and unpolished. The guitar tone is crunchy and the drums are hard-hitting. Even the bass guitar is audible. Quite a number of newer thrash metal acts attempt to have a raw sound such as this, but have too much of a modern quality style of production, which is good or bad depending on your taste. Insinnerator really captured an old-school vibe with the sound of Stalagmite of Ice.
Now onto the music itself. While listening to this record I never once thought that the riffs sounded cookie-cutter or like an afterthought unlike I do when first listening to a lot thrash metal, possibly because Insinnerator do not introduce themselves with the "we're super cool because we're thrash metal, we're bringing it back" attitude with this album. But now I digress. The riffs are fun to listen to and are really quite attention grabbing. The opening track "Evil Spirit from Beyond" is a fast and adrenaline pumping track, perfectly setting the tone for what is to expect from this album. The track "Children of the Cult" also has some cool bass licks that can be heard about less then a minute in the song. There is even a cool and atmospheric "ice" ambient bit during the last minute of the title track that is real enjoyable to listen to. The ending track "Nightmare Theatre" has a soothing clean guitar intro with some more brutal thrash metal to close this mighty self-released debut from the trio. Overall the music is killer!
The only real problem I have with this record are the vocals, which are both shared by frontman "Brutal" Ben and Chris "Atomic-Thrasher" depending on what track you listen to ("Rites of Execution" and "Nightmare Theatre" are sung by Chris "Atomic Thrasher" while all the other tracks are sung by "Brutal" Ben). There is not much driving force behind them and it all kind of sound like exaggerated yelling into the microphone save a falsetto scream thrown out in the song every so often. It seems like something that could be fixed with time, and it really does not ruin the record for this listener personally.
All of that aside, this is a very raw and brutal thrash metal record that will leave you with a sore neck. While it may not be the best record when it comes to introducing thrash metal to someone who is not familiar with the genre, it certainly is hard hitting and will please any hardcore thrash addict.
Highlight tracks: Sabretooth, Rites of Execution, Nightmare Theatre
Just a little background for those of you who may not know who Insinnerator is, they are a 3 piece Thrash band from Dallas Texas, and all I can say is that they will have your headbanging and your neck sore. I had been a fan of Insinnerator after hearing their Rites of Execution demo, but I did not expect for the full-length to sound the way it did. This new record completely exceeded my expectations and I couldn't be happier.
The best part about this album is easily the RIFFS. This album is absolutely loaded with catchy and headbang-able riffs. The best way to describe them would probably be a cross between Megadeth, Slayer and Exodus. They are catchy and technical like Megadeth but also a lot more aggressive and heavy like Slayer or Exodus. Songs like "Evil Spirit From Beyond" and "Children of the Cult" are perfect examples of this. The vocals here range quite a bit. For the most part they are a bit on the cleaner side, like you would expect from a speed metal band but they also reach really high pitched screams that hail back to Tom Araya on Show No Mercy. The song "Rites of Execution" features a more aggressive side of vocalist "Brutal" Ben and he does it very well without sounding out of place or like he's trying too hard. The drumming is great and suits the music perfectly, from speeding up the tempo or creating a heavier atmosphere at the break of a song. The song "Face the Insinnerator" even features some blast beats giving the song a crossover/punk kind of feel.
I have no complaints at all about this album. Insinnerator proved that they deserve to be at the top of the NWOTM. They've established their own sound and have worked extremely hard to build the fanbase that they have without being signed to a label. Stalagmite of Ice has easily found itself a spot in my T10 NWOTM albums and hopefully their next album can top it.