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Originality and innovation, contrary to popular sentiment, are not sins in thrash metal. Sounding like a bumbling band of hoodie toting homeboys in the name of one or both, however, is among the most unforgivable of apostasies. The retro thrash scene is a repudiation of this once dominant heresy that was so readily embraced by the RIAA as some new thing to pass off as envelope pushing music, and Greece definitely seems to have gotten into the habit. One of their noteworthy offerings to the 2000s throwback craze is Suicidal Angels, a band after the molds of the more intense side of the 80s coin, reminiscent of what would pave the way for death metal while still clinging tightly to the basic tenets of what first defined the genre when it broke from the NWOBHM. In fact, one can’t help but picture Fred Durst’s mangled carcass being crushed by the mighty grasp of the winged zombies depicted on the cover of this band’s fine 3rd LP that is “Dead Again”.
Apart from a very clean, tight mix that is standard for any band putting out a product with readily available digital recording technology, this opus sounds like it came right out of 1986. The rapid fire riff work of Dark Angel, the vile chromatics of Slayer, the rawness of the Teutonic scene, and an occasional helping of mid-tempo moderation ala Exodus and some creepy clean guitar atmospherics ala Testament are all mixed into a nice, skull pulverizing package that is sure to sate any appetite. It is unapologetically derivative, and yet these songs largely manage to make their own impression despite the heavy stylistic similarities to previous works of the 80s and the ongoing revival of late. Perhaps the most original part of the sound heard on here is the lead guitar work, which largely sticks to the Hanneman/King approach of wild screams and rapid shred lines, but occasionally chimes in with some creepy melodic passages that are fairly similar to Skolnick’s work on “The New Order”.
Like with any extreme, fast as a raging shark slab of thrash metal with proto-death influences, things are largely at their peak when the tempo races at full speed. The most obvious examples tend to cut right to the chase and leave all but no time for breakdowns, such as the morbid “Bleeding Holocaust”, the hyper-chug fest in “Suicide Solution”, and the blurred smash fest “Violent Abuse”, all of which are heavily informed by “Reign In Blood” and “Persecution Mania”. The longer offerings are a bit more restrained and venture into late 80s territory where the likes of Exodus and Heathen were offering up a somewhat tamer version of things, though “Beggar Of Scorn” isn’t content with providing a pummeling groove for a full 5 minutes and launches into yet another hyper-thrashing fit of mayhem for about a minute before closing out.
This is a band that knows what works, and also one that definitely sounds like they are having a hell of a good time making it work. These songs could very well have been heard 25 years ago, but the fact remains that they weren’t. What is in a year of release any way? As far as delivering a faux thrash destroying dose of head banging glory, Suicidal Angels has the competition working to keep up, and that’s all that need count for this brand of metal. This is only slightly tamer than their most recent offering “Bloodbath”, but still a raucous fit of unfettered rage that needs to be heard by more willing ears. This band seems to get better and better with age, and hopefully they will continue to age well for a good many years.