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This really is one nice little EP. Replica is one of these small under-the-radar metal bands, that nonetheless manage to create to a certain degree unique and loveable music. I've listened to this CD for a while now and must say, that it started with a mostly good first impression and got consequently better and better as time went by.
Replica play thrash metal. This is generally speaking pretty much out of the question and the genre surely forms the solid ground of their music the band builds on. However, it's not that really oldschool type of sound, although the general feel and the overall tone of the songs and the production surely cries "dirty raw garage metal!". Also the vocals hover in a domain usually occupied by most fast and to-the-point thrashers in terms of anger and aggression.
Nevertheless, there is one important aspect: Replica may be aggressiv, but most of the time they're not particularily fast. As I said before, the music in its entirety has this really raw thrash metal feel to it, but in fact it might be more suiting to describe them as a half-thrash-half-groove metal band. At least if we want to indulge ourselves in constant name-dropping of increasingly redundant genre banter I could do just that. Pretty obvious however, to say, that the EP is a midtempo piece of catchiness and seldom accelerates into a tempest of darkangelesque riffing like I half expected it during my first spin of "Metanoia". I generally don't like the latter in too great amounts, because it simply gets quite boring in time. Keeping this in mind, I have to point out, that Replica is anything but boring, every song here has its reason for existence, from the excellent opener with its simplistic, yet powerful intro melody, followed by the crushing "Das Dorf" with its weird bridge parts, to the rifftastic "Aquadome". Also worth mentioning is "Mephistopheles", the last and longest track on the EP which, concerning song structure, easily manages to shift between its single parts of calm and anger and in doing this doesn't sound forced at all, but with a well-crafted overall atmosphere.
Very well, now let me go over some things I'd really have to point out in some more detail.
1. The guitar: Riffs are, aside from the vocals, the driving force of this album. Song after song the guitarist serves us one neck-breaking dish after another, and although he surely doesn't win any innovation prize, there is nothing boring or stale about them. They fit as perfectly as possible into the songs and quite frankly seem to have written "M-E-T-A-L" all over them. As said before, most of the guitar work is midtempo, although there are some rather slow sections as well as a fair share of faster more oldschool riffing, as both evidenced in "Das Dorf".
Soundwise, there is not much to critize, in fact I can imagine that a lot of people might perhaps say, that it is a little thin, but I for myself find it quite fitting. For me, the tone has more or less the same branding as the riffs it's carrying. The right word might also be "meaty". Similar to this, the solos also are nothing out of the ordinary, but well-executed, fitting and even interesting in places. Unfortunately sometimes the earlier mentioned thin sound -while mostly working for the rhythm guitar- affects their quality in a more negative way and in some instances they just sound like all the air got sucked out of them. Best example would be the tapping part near the end of "Metabolic Destruction", where it perhaps also would have improved things a bit if they put a rhythm guitar under it.
Nevertheless, the guitar work on this album is one of the things, that makes it stand out for me. It might sound contrived, but overall, it bears a notion of ... honesty, that's not only a real threat for the continued survival of your neck vertebra but also conveys the hint, that the player really enjoys himself und knows very well what he's doing.
2. The vocals: I would bet a real fortune, that this is exactly the type of singing which you either love or hate, yet not much inbetween. When I first listened to this CD I would probably have agreed with the hating faction as there is indeed a tendency (even nowadays from time to time, I have to admit) of the vocals that make you silently pray for the next instrumenal section. Sure, they are nothing unusual and someone with a better und wider knowledge of thrash metal vocalists (or metal at all for that matter ;) ) than I would perhaps object, that they are not really worth mentioning concerning either pole of quality. This put aside, however, I think, that the singer does equally a "metal" job as the guitarist regarding feel and aggression. To use a word I swore myself to never use in a review like this: They are not innovative, but idiosyncratic and somehow amazingly fitting.
Bottom line: As a matter of fact, a simply good, yet not overly outstanding piece of refreshing down-to-earth metal with almost everything in the right place, the right relation and with the right amount. Certainly gets an A for effort by the band and a B- for the music itself, so to speak.