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Tsar Bomb initially formed in 2009 and have since undergone several line up changes. Eventually the Spaniard group settled on three consistent members; a vocalist, guitarist and bassist. 2012 saw the release of Tsar Bomb's four-track, self-titled debut EP and soon afterwards their first full-length album, Neowarfare. Does this entry LP obliterate the masses with a destructive detonation, or fail to cause much more than a fizzle?
One thing to note immediately is that Tsar Bomb did not have a live drummer at the point that this album was recorded, and instead a drum machine that was programmed by vocalist Ocram and guitarist Ivan is used. Due to this, the drums have a deeply embedded mechanical sound to them that give off a cold, desolate, war-like atmosphere to the material. When listening via headphones, the drums sound like they're pushed too far back into the mix to make much of a difference or impact to the material. However, when listening via speakers the drums absolutely wreck the sub-woofer with a devastating onslaught of machine gun double bass kicks and fierce snare slams. The drum programming has been done remarkably well, the only downsides being that some of the beats sound humanly impossible, such as what is heard in "Nuclear Feast", and it is easy to recognize some of the triggers.
Aside from the drums, there is a lack of depth to the overall content. The guitar is mundane and lifeless in tone, equipped with barely any distortion or enthralling characteristics in general. A good portion of the tracks are carried by tremolo picking and the occasional set of power chord riffs, with a few brief sweeps and solos thrown in for extra chaos; on the upside, the riffs are creative and stimulating, the listener never gains the feeling that they've heard this before. There is an invasion of war-inspired audio snippets dispersed amidst the nine tracks, ranging from dropping bombs, flying fighter jets and explosions; these added efforts reinforce the turbulent war themes that breach each and every song present. The vocals come across much like those from Belphegor front-man Helmuth, assimilating powerful growls and harsh mid-tone shrieks; the vocals also sparingly make use of spoke word phrases, sometimes coupled with a megaphone effect. Lastly, but not least, the bass domineeringly helps Neowarfare gain momentum with an explosion of continual, deep, rasping lines.
Four of the tracks included appear on Tsar Bomb's self-titled EP; "Tsar Bomb", "Zyklon-B for the Human Race", "Ashes of My Enemies" and "Tupolev TU-95". Each of these tracks carry over strongly, but they were just released a few months prior to Neowarfare so their incorporation feels needless. Of the fresh material, "Nammu" is the only other track that truly stands out amongst the rest and is much slower in tempo compared to the rest of the album, which has an abundant cold, hardened atmosphere to it.
Tsar Bomb have a hit and miss full-length on their hands. On one hand, the content is exceedingly fast, perhaps even rivaling that of Behemoth; it blasts, it pummels, it overwhelms, it's driven, it's chaotic. On the other hand, the bland guitar tone really brings this content way down despite the purposefully bleak atmosphere that they provide; the guitar is underwhelming, completely toneless, and stale in sound. It's also really uncertain if a live drummer could keep up with some portions of this content, it's just that fast. Another downside is that four of the five tracks that are the best on Neowarfare have already been released in a prior EP that was distributed a few mere months before this album. This is one of those albums that could go either way depending on the individual; if you want something that will beat your sorry ass into a bloody pulp, relentlessly, with driving chaos and inhuman drumming then this may be the album for you.
- Villi Thorne
Black death metal music is still digging its way toward listeners as one of the most violent sub-genres in metal history, and many groups around the world are trying to fit this genre within the structure of the songwriting. One of these groups is the Spanish black death metal band Tsar Bomb.
Tsar Bomb has released the solid debut album, "Neowarfare", for all the fans of this genre and for all those who are interested in wars and destructive weapons. The band formed in 2009 and kept on struggling until the debut album found its way toward the history of violent music. The powerful riffs and the destroying drumming have a lot of energy for all fans who search for this kind of music. As the Spanish extreme metal scene is rising increasingly in the last decade, Tsar Bomb is proving to be one of these Spanish groups that can create the most violent music in Spanish history.
The music that Tsar Bomb has created on this record is full of fatal inspiration and destruction with tracks like "Victorious Death and "Ashes of My Enemies" reflecting this dark inspiration clearly with a lot of killer riffs and tough musical textures. Though the drumming patterns are similar in most of songs, these patterns flow perfectly with the rapid guitars and the angry sound of the bass, and this can be noticed in the tracks "Neowarfare" and "Tsar Bomb". I really expected to hear many guitar solos on this record because the solos can add more flexibility to the tracks, but this record left me thirsty for solos because I could hear them only in the tracks "Zyklon-B for the Human Race" and "Nammu".
This album has a lot of excellent riffs and bass lines, especially where the double bass captures the whole sound of the drums to create a great void behind the brutal tune of the guitars. The sound of the bass merges with the sound of the guitar in these tracks in a very professional way, creating a violent atmosphere for all the listeners. The vocals on this record are devilish and lethal and the throat of the vocalist has the ability to spread the destruction of 50 megatons of TNT within the structure of the tracks.
A lot of special extreme metal bands around the world have been influenced by the destructive weapons and wars in their songwriting with my personal favorite bands being the old Norwegian group Zyklon-B and the Norwegian V:28, but today Tsar Bomb has been added to my favorite list as one of the most solid bands that can steal your imagination and put you in an atmosphere full of wars and destruction.
If you have the ability to extend your ears for this amount of violence and force, then close your eyes and let the subversive music of this record take you away with these nine tracks, but if you don't have the power to ingest this amount of devastation, then stay away from this record and don't try to come back. This album is a great example of how the fatal weapon and themes of destruction and war can effect the structure of such metal tracks, so get your copy now and enjoy the madness that the band created inside this record.
Originally written for:
While Cold War is in full swing, Soviet Union leaders seek to strike another blow, a few months after placing the first man in orbit. This time, the strength demonstration will be military. At the end of October 1961, over the inhospitable terrain of Novaya Zemlya (an Arctic Ocean archipelago), a Tupolev Tu-95 drops a thermonuclear device with a power never experienced before. Exploding over 4000 meters, the hydrogen bomb releases a force greater than fifty megatons, carbonizing forests and homes over hundreds of kilometers. Promptly informed of this achievement, visible to almost 1000 kilometers from the impact point, Americans call it “Tsar Bomb” (“Imperial Bomb”). This is, incidentally, the name chosen by a young Hispanic band, whose music recalls the heyday of atmospheric nuclear tests.
This Andalusia trio offers indeed black metal strongly tinged with ultra-fast death metal, an approach that is spontaneously reminiscent of bands like Behemoth, Hate or – closer to home – Necronomicon. It hits hard and fast. After a short introduction, the title track starts heavy atoms’ fission and chain reaction follows immediately. However, perhaps due to a leak in the system, the explosion never reaches the expected power.
Interpretation is crystal clear, song writing follows every conventions of the genre and packaging is impeccable. But Neowarfare album gives a cold and synthetic impression to the listener, caused in part by a triggered battery that provides discomfort among those seeking a more warm and organic sound. However, there are still good moments on this record, that reminded me more than once Zyklon’s first albums, without ever managing to match their originality and extreme brutality.
I remain optimistic. This first opus portends good things for Tsar Bomb. Hopefully these atom lovers will give their music a stronger personality that will allow them to distinguish themselves from their many illustrious colleagues. 6/10
Originally written for Métal Obscur.