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Sitting here outside a pub with a pint in my hand, I have a fantastic collection of songs screaming into my ears and I'm starting to feel like I'm listening to Reign in Blood for the first time again. Now, I'm not comparing this to that classic slab of thrash, but a feeling has indeed been conjured that is in keeping with that moment years ago that started with Angel of Death as an opener. Indeed, this would be a worthy counterpart to an evening of listening to some old thrash bands! There would of course have to be an allowance made for the vocals, but all metallers should be open minded!
I have been a fan of this band since their inception, and although their career has meandered from the formula that I always found endearing, they have rarely left my annual playlist. This latest album for me has been quite a revelation; although it still suffers from a couple of weak points of needless 'groovy' sections, it is still an entertaining assault on the ears! The tone of the guitars is reminiscent of old Slayer with a hint of Megadeth - perhaps no accident then the choice axe legends to share the burden of killer solos.
Although, as stated above, there is a little bit of dross in quality of the slower songs due to a grove feel to the riffs, this album did bring to mind the days when all you needed was a fast- paced riff and aggression to get by in the world of metal and get heads nodding. Although the content is not especially original, there is a quality of execution that belies the simplicity of the formula applied to the song writing. All the instruments pull together in almost a homage to days long gone in the world of thrash/speed that kept you rocking until you dropped. The music here is as previously stated in the vein of the thrash/speed era that inspired it's creation. In fact, some of the material contained here reminds me of Testament in structure if not in tone. The guitars are slightly too sharp to allow a direct comparison, but the relentless aggression and 'head-nodding' moments are too good to resist breaking out Killing Is My Business or Low as a follow up. As mentioned before, the vocals require some allowance. I have always been a fan of Marduk and actually prefer the work of Legion here due to the change of pace and tone of the instruments, however I feel that something is missed without Toxine at the helm. Although I enjoy the vocal performance of Legion, he cannot quite capture the inherent 'lewdness' that his predecessor managed in expressing the lyrics of the bands previous efforts. This to me is a missed opportunity as I have always enjoyed this element of the bands sound.
For me, this has been a reawakening of old passions that have been kinda missing since listening in school to Altar of Sacrifice back in the 80's and feeling rebellious!
I would recommend this to anyone who started their listening career in metal with thrash and worked up to black metal, as this band and especially this album seem to span this bridge almost perfectly.