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It’s not just a clever name – Italy’s Sofisticator are just where to go if you’re looking for some scuzzy, to-the-point, and decidedly unsophisticated thrash. Like many of their international brethren on EBM Records, they are resolutely unoriginal, but at the same time manage to pull off their 80s thrash approach with enough energy and enthusiasm to avoid sounding like a tired copycat.
Their influences may be plain for all to see – early Slayer and Venom being the most apparent – but the quintet sound like they are just having so much damn fun playing simplistic blackened thrash riddled with dumb humour that it’s impossible not to just grin and join in.
The rasping drawl of the vocalist, Disossator, is probably the biggest giveaway of their Venom Legions membership; unlike his mentor, he renders much of what he’s singing unintelligible (and let’s be honest, with song titles like ‘Total flatulence war (Beans attack!)', that’s probably for the best...), but his limited, burned-out range naturally fits in with the belligerent music perfectly.
The Venom worship doesn’t end with the vocals though, as for all the evil ‘Hell awaits’ style harmonies that infect most of the songs, there are as many outbursts of the Geordie horde’s signature brand of scummy speed metal. The New Wave of British Heavy Metal vibe that sneaks through on a few of the tracks really bursts to the fore on the most developed song of the bunch, the grammatical disaster “I wa’ sborr’ to rock’n’roll”. Longer than most of its roommates by a good 2 minutes, it features endless bursts of colourful lead guitar and ends on a joyfully authentic NWOBHM riff that serves as a perfect cap on an exuberant and light-hearted stormer.
Though despite me playing up their similarities to Venom and emphasising the simple charms of the music, it shouldn’t be imagined that Sofisticator are sloppy musicians, and indeed the mature performances are brought to you through the medium of a rather excellent production job, with the drums and bass in particular sounding both monstrously heavy and satisfyingly uncluttered.
It may go against the grain a little for this sort of music to sound so pristine, but there comes a point where inspiration becomes imitation and Sofisticator have wisely left the tin can guitars and cardboard box drum sounds of the early 80s in their own era. And just to give one last mention to Venom, the bag-of-spanners sound on their last 3 CDs should really serve as fair warning to anyone trying to create a raw, low budget sound on modern recording equipment.
In any case, while ‘Camping the vein’ isn’t particularly big or clever, it’s hard to argue that isn’t a whole lot of stupid, bad-natured fun. Sofisticator clearly don’t care how derivative they sound, and neither should you, really.
(Originally written for http://www.metalcdratings.com/)