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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.