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Thrash not black - 74%

Colonel Para Bellum, January 11th, 2020
Written based on this version: 2016, CD, Independent (Digipak, Limited edition)

I classify "The Burning of the Saints" as black / thrash metal, and not as black metal without any qualms. And even more precisely, as thrash / black metal. Yes, there are plenty of the black metal elements and techniques in this work, and even more than that: when comparing all the material with the Metal Corrosion cover, which triumphantly closes the album, it may be concluded that SmertoKrest play almost black metal. Almost. Nevertheless, black metal should be black metal, and if there is a whole slew of stylistic borrowings from thrash metal in music, then it is no longer black metal. And, by the way, the song of Metal Corrosion is very much to the point of the album. But I must note that Metal Corrosion's song would never fit into a full-fledged (pure, if you prefer) black metal work.

If we talk about pure black metal, then you can not hear so many tremolo riffs on this album. Well, pure black metal does not mean the dictatorship of the tremolo riff, but that's not the point. Sometimes the piercingness of the tremolo riffs is leveled by the atmosphere of daredevilry and recklessness which is created in the song through other means – as, for example, in the fourth "The Burning of the Saints". The same thing can be said about the fifth "Rotting Crosses": recklessness reigns here, there is no trace of the atmosphere in the understanding of black metal here at all. It may be added too, that SmertoKrest have clangorous / clanking bass, well, it sounds good for thrash metal, but it doesn't allow to create a black metal atmosphere.

From time to time SmertoKrest permit themselves melodic riffs or even solos in the vein of Swedish melodic black metal (right, Dissection), for example, in the second "Obsessed with Evil", the fifth "Rotting Crosses", the sixth "The Messenger of Darkness". However, if we continue to build analogies with the Swedish bands, to attract Nifelheim will be much more accurate. Well, in the capacity of an understandable orienting point only, because SmertoKrest are as far away from Nifelheim as from melodic black metal. For instance, they have only one solo on the entire album, which is performed by tapping, and even then it is very short – at the end of the third song "The Swamp of Satan". This composition, by the way, is not very characteristic for this album.

Thrash metal wins on "The Burning of the Saints" not only due to riffs, manner, and sound, but also because of the vocals. For example, the second song "Obsessed with Evil" – if you analyze the riffs, then black metal is performed here. However, the vocals (in Russian) kill the whole black metal atmosphere. The vocalist rattles off the text, he does not dwell on words even at the end of phrase, well, he spits out words like venom, a helluva lot of words – this is how the first thrash metal bands sang in Russia, such vocals were in Metal Corrosion too, by the way. And in the sixth song "The Messenger of Darkness" because of the Russian lyrics and, most importantly, because of a similar primitive satanic/misanthropic theme, Bloodrain is heard. Of course, there are a lot of such bands in Russia, but fortunately I do not know all of them, therefore I have an association with Bloodrain.

So that's all about SmertoKrest and their album "The Burning of the Saints". But their music is really evil – you can't say anything against this. And their music is not boring.