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Ancient darkness galore - 92%

chaossphere, June 10th, 2005

The metal work can be a fickle one. Some bands explode in a blaze of creativity and popularity, then are left to trudge it out, and occasionally some regain their initial spark – but most just keep releasing albums that are “good, but no (xx album released in 1986). Others are simply content to keep cranking out solid, vicious metal without garnering much attention, but often it’s these bands which creatively overshadow their more well-known peers. A good case in point being Thanatos – this band released their first demo tape in 1984, and in the past 20 years unleashed several more demo’s, a live tape and four full length albums. Undead.Unholy.Divine marks their 20th anniversary, and they’ve done a damn good job of blowing away any recent efforts by plenty of other still-active 80s thrashers. Mainly because, it seems, they’ve taken note of the good ideas injected into thrash by their younger peers. Rather than going all Swedish on us like Kreator, or turning into self-absorbed wankers a-la Celtic Frost, they’ve injected a big dose of death metal intensity, while retaining the balls-out thrash style. This is pure 80’s death metal put through a modern filter, building up intensity through mood rather than speed. They mostly stick around midpaced, speeding up every now and then, occasionally launching into a well-placed blastbeat, but never simply revving up to breakneck speed for its own sake.

The other good thing here is the mix, which is fucking thick and not too clean – this sounds grimy and dirty, but everything remains audible. Not to mention the total horror-movie atmosphere they often conjure up – the intro of “Beyond Terror” being a perfect example, while the resulting song is a wicked riff-fest. The vocals here vary between a deep growl and a more audible rasp, the latter definitely reminding of Jeff Becerra – you can tell Possessed probably blew them away with Seven Churches, because shades of that album frequently make themselves heard. Morbid Angel is another of their peers who seem to have made an impression, with the solo in “Beyond Terror” being a near-perfect replica of the opening “air raid siren” break from “Abominations”.

The only negative here is the silly, pointless hidden grindcore track after an even more pointless silence at the end of the album. But since it’s preceded by 10 tracks of pure death-thrashing goodness AND placed on a separate track index so one can merely program it out of existence, I’ll let them get away with it. This time ;)