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It's an interesting thing how some certain genres rise in popularity, then they begin to steadily decline, and then sometimes popularity starts to rise again, which not only brings old schoolers back, but spawn a lot of bands in an attempt to 'revitalize' the scene. So, thrash revival you say? Well, the mere word sounds very promising. After all, old school thrashers had some classic albums, a great headbanging material, even better if you hear them live, and hey, do you know any metalhead who'd stand still on a Kreator gig even if he/she hadn't heard them before? Thought so.
So, Suicidal Angels. Hailing all the way from Greece, which hosts one of my all time favorite bands, Rotting Christ. Now, as good as that band may be, that country isn't well known for producing metal bands, so these guys playing thrash metal and hailing from a country only known for it's mediterranean black metal sound at the beginning of the 90's is sure a recipe for gathering a lot of attention. Now for myself, I only heard of them like 5 months ago, while they were supporting Exodus, and while these guys sound actually pretty insane live, this album feels like an exercise in redundancy.
This is a really bad attempt at early Exodus. Now when I say bad, I don't mean the music itself is bad, it's just pointless to the core, it's all been done before, and not once. Moshing Crew really tries to be A Lesson In Violence, Chaos really tries to be A Toxic Waltz, and when all is said and done, these songs don't get the job done. The album is of course, packed to the brim with old school thrash riffs, but they carry no weight to them. This album listens like a best-of from the 80's thrash, just without everything that made that genre so spicy and delicious. The guitar tone is so undistinct, the drumming is stale, vocals are your generic thrash shouts, and bass is nowhere to be heard. Or well, he can be heard I guess, just that you have no reason whatsoever to actually pay attention to the bassist (where is D.D Verni by the way, just by looking at the number of guest musicians, atleast they could have got themselves a great guest bassist), he is following the guitar all the time. I guess the title track ain't that bad, but once you got past 2 or 3 songs, it all starts to be so unexciting, it's like a sleeping pill. But I have to give my kudos to Chaos, which is while being mentioned earlier as an attempt at an already done catchy tune, and having an intro overdone to the fucking oblivion, is pretty fun, especially with that accent. Kheios!
Speaking of musicians, Suicidal Angels are a four-piece, with two guitars, a lead vocalist and the guitarist and the bassist are backing vocals. Now, I know it, cause I saw them live myself, so can anyone explain to me the purpose of having two of the greatest death metal vocalists ever to walk this miserable planet on the worst possible track on the album they could choose? That track is obnoxiously boring, has a hideously bad chorus, and guess what? Karl Willets is doing... the shouting. That's right, Karl, the frontman of the greatest death metal band is doing stupid yelling in the last part of the verse and the chorus. But, that's not it! The most distinct voice in death metal, the one and only Martin Van Drunen is also included, but I haven't noticed him until I read on the booklet that he performs the vocals. I mean, seriously? I am a big Asphyx fan, I like Hail Of Bullets, and Consuming Impulse is one of the greatest death/thrash metal albums ever recorded, and I DIDN'T RECOGNIZE MARTIN? Where is he in the song? Now, I'm sure Suicidal Angels met and befriended a lot of great and respected musicians and songwriters on their tours but that doesn't mean that they should use them on an album as redundant as this one, and on the track as boring as Legacy Of Pain. It's like when that Brazilian power metal band hired Bruce Dickinson, Michael Kiske and more to do guest vocals on the album. I mean, why, what's the damn point? Write your own music and perform it as artists yourselves, don't expect well known musicians to raise your popularity.
So, in conclusion, if you want a really good attempt at early Exodus, do you know which band to look up? That's right, that would be early Exodus. Or if you want Kreator worship, you could just try... Kreator? Yeah, cause those bands have a distinct sound to them, and certainly did contribute to the development of metal. And since most of the thrash heroes are still alive and releasing music ranging from okay (Exodus, Heathen) to great (Overkill, Kreator, Sodom), it pushes bands like Suicidal Angels further down the drain. There is nothing to be heard here that you haven't heard a thousand times before, and this comes from a non-thrasher, a totally casual thrash metal listener (easily seen from the fact that despite me only mentioning bands that are on top of my tongue, I only mention a few bands), and I think it says enough.
For being what it is, it's not terrible. But for the fact that it is retro thrash, I also can't give it an ounce of merit.
My problem with these bands is the explicit intent to rehash old Slayer, Exodus and Kreator. Not really acceptable. All bands borrow from their influences, but normally that mean having more than a handful of bands as your entire range of musical influences and direct regurgitation of their material.
This sounds just like a slightly less harsh version of early Slayer. Fast thrash riffs, generic "evil" lyrics, fast drums, the occasional irrelevant acoustic bit, and uninspired guitar solos. The vocalist even tries to sound just like Tom. The riffs are mediocre, but I guess they're not bad, but I'd be lying if I said I haven't heard them all 859 times from 859 different sources. The songs do nothing interesting or unexpected, adding to the absolute chore that this ends up being. No atmosphere, lackluster production values, and is monotonous in tone and rhythm. On top of all that, it ends up being slightly less heavy than the bands they pay homage to. Thrash is an inherently straightforward, narrowly-defined style. And that just adds to the banality of it all.
On the music alone, I'd probably give this something in the low 60's, but I have to take off points for the nadir of what makes a band truly good or remarkable - originality, good song writing...and originality. And doing things that are unexpected. And originality. Remember, not because the album is sort of lacking these things, but because it is devoid of these things.
The album cover is cool. The music is boring. I think I've written my last review of this style because I end up sounding as redundant as the scene that breeds it.
I titled this review Dead Again Part II because this album is essentially a continuation of their previous release so the formula is not as surprising or fresh. Once again we are presented with a badass cover by Ed Repka. The production is not exactly the same as Dead Again; mainly the drums are more pounding and in your face and the guitars a bit cleaner. The changes are nothing too major. After slipping in this disc or laying down the needle on your record you are, with haste, crushed with an infectious and mean thrash metal riff of the title track (no solemn intro this time around). Such a riff will have you mimicking the strumming of a guitar or violently headbanging if not both simultaneously.
There are a handful of songs on this album that have great tempo changes and drum lines to go with it such as "Morbid Intention to Kill" or "Summoning of the Dead". Just when you feel safe during these songs they will catch you off guard and burst into a thrashing frenzy only to change tempo again. In order to supply some variety the band offers a couple of heavy mid-paced chuggers as well such as "Legacy of Pain" (featuring death metal vocalists Karl Willets and Martin Van Drunen). You'll even find some melodic riffs thrown into one of the fastest songs on the album "Torment Payback". The energy in these songs are undeniable. This is what old school style thrash metal should sound like.
As far as the lyrics go, we're presented with nothing new or shocking but there are times, usually during the chorus, where you can't help but sing along. The same could be said for the instruments or songs as a whole. This album is not progressive in any sense of the word and chances are if you're listening to this band you do so because you love the old school sound and not because you're looking for something that revolutionizes the genre. Having said that, the riffs and song arrangements are still extremely catchy and most importantly... aggressive! You will head bang, you will fist pump, you will sing along, and if you're at a concert (as I was lucky enough to see them during a trip to Greece) you WILL join the moshing crew!
Many people underestimate the current retro-thrash craze, or the entire thrash movement both retro and otherwise for that matter. This is a comprehensive, worldwide phenomenon that is supported by a massive upsurge of independent and middle sized labels and greater accessibility to high quality recording equipment. To put it in more ideological terms, there’s no massive oligarch cabal that can kill this scene the way it did in the early 90s in favor of milking the latest craze for all its worth, this is an organic occurrence that will not go away no matter how much the innovation cultists wish it would. After all, innovation itself tends to be a relative concept that is subject to its locale and also its stylistic context.
Taking all of this into account, a band like Suicidal Angels, born out of the great land of Greece where old school thrash is much scarcer, they consequently bring a strongly impassioned take on a style that was largely established in 1986. Their 4th LP “Bloodbath” depicts a similarly graphic image of hellish devils mutilating fallen souls as seen on Slayer’s “Hell Awaits”, and the contents definitely take a few pointers from the mid 80s repertoire of the same pioneers of extreme thrashing mayhem. Largely the musical tendencies are towards the heavier, darker, Teutonic character of Kreator, as heard in the high speed vileness of “Face Of God” and “Skinning The Undead, all of which exude that proto-death metal filthiness that eventually resulted in Cannibal Corpse and Deicide.
However, there is also a healthy dose of traditionalism at work here that hearkens back to the Bay Area sound, most particularly taking on the mode of classic Exodus (an admitted influence of the band). It’s mostly found in the vocal delivery of Nick Melissourgos, which is more reminiscent of the tonal gruff and grit of a Paul Baloff or a Don Doty. Likewise, the band does manage to slow things down on occasion and take on a bit more of a haunting, “South Of Heaven” feel, particularly on the closing epic “Bleeding Cries” which largely chugs along at mid-tempo and features an impressive mix of twisted chromatic harmonies and pummeling grooves. It’s difficult to really point to one pinnacle moment on this album as it’s basically by the numbers, but the overall package is done with heavy enough doses of attitude and anger that it transcends its lack of stylistic distinctiveness amongst an ever-growing movement of throwbacks.
It might be a bit presumptive to say that this is the band that has put Greece on the map as far as thrash metal goes, but there are few (if any) notable contemporaries or past figures to point to that get the job done this well. This has definitely been heard several times before, but it definitely should be heard a lot more times before all is said and done. Basically anyone who loves blazing speed, power packed riff work, growled but very intelligible vocals, and an all around solid display of thrash orthodoxy should feel right at home with this band, and “Bloodbath” is the latest in what will hopefully be a long career of giving the Western side of the thrash coin a good run for their money.