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The Italian thrash scene is alive and kicking. Bands like Rome’s Satanika are living, active proof of that. Italy’s thrash scene has a ton of contenders playing every style out there from the progressively tinged to so-called “rethrash.” Satanika’s style of black thrash hearkens back to the glory days of Sodom, Dark Angel and Kreator while still retaining a unique flair. Nothing on their second full length, “Infection”, is revolutionary, but it should be a relatively enjoyable listen to fans of fast paced blackened thrash.
The entirety of this album is thrashing madness, plain and simple. “Infection” wouldn’t sound out of place among “Leave Scars” or “Persecution Mania”. It’s not just that music is heavy and fast, because it is, but it can also be attributed to the rough production used here. While it’s not lo-fi to the point of many underground black metal acts, it does have a rough and dirty feel similar to the heavier eighties thrash heavyweights. Another part that puts this right in line with the eighties is the liberal use of elements borrowed from death, black and thrash metal styles. Bands back then didn’t differentiate between these styles, they just played thrashing, riff-centric metal; and that is precisely what Satanika offers, thrashing, riff-centric metal. Therein lies the problem that Satanika has: everything they are doing has already been done. While it is a relatively enjoyable way to bash away an hour, there are other bands out there that have done this before, to near perfection.
It’s one thing to worship times long gone or to revel in history, it’s another thing altogether to live it and breathe it. If you haven’t picked up on it yet, Satanika’s style heavily plays off of the groundwork laid by the forefathers of all things thrash. As mentioned, Satanika’s music could be a dead ringer for any number of eighties acts. Tracks like “Into the Fire” just scream early Kreator, while tracks like “Satanic Overkill” summon images of Destruction and Sodom. The guitar riffs are exciting, with lots of tempo changes coupled with palm muted chugging and scaled extrapolations. The riffs are catchy and I could see some old thrash heads doing the toxic waltz here. Actually, many of these riffs wouldn’t sound too out of place on “Bonded by Blood”, only with a healthy dose of amphetamine in the veins. Speaking of speed, let’s talk about the drums. Most of the album consists of fast paced double bass runs with a loud as hell, hollow snare and tinny crashes. The parts that aren’t straight double bass runs showcase some really catchy double kick footwork. The entire album is frock with fills and rolls that are just as fast as the double bass runs. The other half of the rhythm sections thunders along, providing an ample low end, but it’s fuzzy and only comes to the forefront on rare occasions. The leads are fun and fast paced, taking a lot of cues from the speed metal greats of the eighties. The vocals are mostly a gruff shout with a hint of raspiness, again recalling early Teutonic thrash legends.
“Infection” is a fun album: it’s enjoyable, it’s thrashy and it’s catchy. If you dig throwback thrash, check this out. This is dirtier and rawer than most of the newer-retro thrash acts (if that makes sense!). If you can’t get enough early Sodom or Kreator into your ears, then check this out, as it would sit nicely along those lines. The blasting intensity of the drums coupled with catchy, chugging riffs bursting out of the seams makes this an album that is enjoyably retro yet still relevant. This is for those who want the nostalgic approach of the eighties from a slightly different angle.
Originally written for The Metal Observer:
Quickly back with a grotesque offering, Satanika brings you the "Infection". A hearty slab of blackened thrash metal glorifying the old school style of metal and horror movies. The cover art gives you the correct atmosphere while you listen and features the band's mascot of sorts. The title track begins with an audio clip of an ominous voice declaring the return of Satanika and then quickly explodes into a thrashing frenzy. Production-wise the album sounds more organic and heavy than the debut so overall gives this sophomore release a unique feel.
The album is surprisingly diverse and boasts many interesting guest appearances. The absolute best being that of Bobby G. (ex-Overkill) who offers a frantic yet slightly melodic solo on the song "Abduction". Another great guest appearance is that of Lawrence Mackrory (Darkane, F.K.Ü.) whose clean vocals add a unique aspect to the song "Into the Fire" and gives a purely 80s sound. Other excellent appearances include Matt Harvey,
Stephan Gebédi, and more!
The lyrics cover gruesome and putrid horror categories but delivered in a growling fashion by Cris Pervertor who is cultured in those topics and will have you chanting "Violent death, violent death. Hail the flesh!" or "Abducted by aliens, you lay in blood, don't look in their eyes, obey to their knives!"
Throughout the album your ears will be graced with many shredding solos from guitarist Barren; some remind me of the mighty Slayer but without the monotony that Kerry King tends to have. There are also a plethora of delicious riffs to be found on this album such as in the beginning of the ferocious "Psycho Slut" or the tempo-changing chug of "Abduction".
This band presents a well-constructed atmosphere which is hard to come by and I think can either make or a break a band. Everything from the CD booklet to the audio clips and production is well thought out and minutely planned to give such a unique feeling. I anxiously wait for a third album offering. In the mean time go buy this old school masterpiece and support the underground!