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Technical/prog thrash from Brazil! - 85%

Hellish_Torture, September 6th, 2014

Brazil is well known for its prolific metal scene and the “bastard” old school attitude of the local metal crowd. It’s not a coincidence that this country, full of problems, anger and insecurity about future, has an own thrash scene with its own trademark sound, constituting one of the most important countries for thrash metal and extreme metal in general. First of all, Sepultura, which is one of the most famous metal bands in the world, and then other cult names such as Attomica, Mutilator, Sarcofago, Sextrash, Violator, Vulcano, Chakal, Executer, Korzus, The Mist and so on. Most of these bands have a quite extreme sound (particularly, Sarcofago and Mutilator were fundamental names for the development of death and black metal), but this is not the only side of Brazilian underground. Acid Storm are here to demonstrate it.

“Biotronic Genesis”, the only full-length of this band, is one of those album which came out too late to be recognized. In 1991, thrash was beginning to go through a period of huge crisis, despite still surviving in the underground, and this album is a typical product of that time: so many thrash bands were choosing to go beyond the classic scheme of thrash, introducing more technical and progressive elements into their sound (“Time Does Not Heal” is probably the most remarkable example); so, while death metal and the first signs of “modern crossover” (industrial metal, alternative metal, funk metal, rap metal etc.) were taking more and more place in the mainstream scene, thrash was taking a personal path, focusing less on brutality (which had become a death metal trademark) and more on complexity, sometimes with good results, sometimes not. “Biotronic Genesis” belongs definitely to the first category.

It’s very rare to hear a Brazilian band playing technical thrash metal, especially with a “progressive” edge to it. This is a very well-composed album, and it seems that every part is perfectly calibrated to fit together perfectly. Every instrument expresses itself completely, each one playing a proper “individual” part, but everything blends together perfectly (except some sporadic cases, like the final track “Star Host”, which unfortunately features some unnecessary random tempo changes).

Just when “Metal Beasts” opens the album, kicking in with a very good speed/thrash riff, you instantly notice the high level of technicality of this band. Despite the odd and amateurish vocals (which have always been a common point in many underground thrash bands), you’ll be amazed by the individual technique of the musicians, which, blended together, is able to create powerful and personal songs. Very often, in a metal album, the bass is buried beneath the rest; this album is definitely an exception. The bass plays a fundamental part, being even complementary to the guitar riffs, instead of a mere accompaniment put underneath. Just listen to “Last Days of Paradise” to hear the genial roles of the bass, perfectly blended with the guitars. Sometimes, the bass parts sound even a bit funky, but not too much; this is surely different from Mordred. Also the drums are played in an atypical way, featuring lots of odd time signatures and various technical patterns that, despite what one may think, don’t sound forced at all and fit perfectly the music.

So, well, every instrument has its space, but, like on every metal album worthy of respect, guitars are always the predominant element. And, on this album, the guitarists go totally nuts. Besides many creative and vivacious speed/thrash riffs, you will find some moments of pure genius. These guys have really a lot of taste in terms of weird and eclectic melodies, and several tracks on this album (“Metal Beasts”, “Hungry for Life”, “Galactic Holocaust”, “Star Host”) demonstrate it very well, featuring lunatic riffs and genial melodic structures; also the way these melodies often switch into melodic and intense solos, like on “Biologic Mechanization”, is absolutely godly and many so-called “technical” bands (which just wank around with their instruments playing mindless “virtuosistic” nonsense) should take example from this.

This album is very good from start to finish, but there are some definite highlights which shine above the rest and should be described more in detail to give them justice. One of these is undoubtedly the instrumental track “Symbiotic Love”: it begins with a beautiful combination of clean guitar arpeggios and perfect guitar solos; then, the guitar solos leave space to a very good thrash march that fall into some stop-and-go moments (giving more prominence to the arpeggios) and after this, an amazing blend of guitar solos and bass solos takes your breath away. But the greatest song of all is surely “Galactic Holocaust”, where the “intelligent virtuosity” of the band reaches the peak of its expression: between absolutely dreamy solos, kickass speed metal onslaughts, unexpected high-pitched riffs, other weird riffs built upon breath-taking escalations of notes and other remarkable bass solos, this song just blew me away and made me see how much this band is talented.

So, Acid Storm is definitely an underrated act. Their work demonstrates that, even in a raw genre such as thrash metal, you are allowed be as technical as you please, if your music still makes sense and sounds powerful. And Acid Storm definitely does. I think that, if this album came out in the golden age of thrash metal, it would’ve been revered as a classic of technical thrash, and if it came out nowadays, between all those mediocre clone bands, the band would have been put maybe even above Vektor in terms of personality and songwriting ability. So, even if Acid Storm’s performance has been surprisingly exceeded just two years later by another Brazilian band, the mighty Butcher, “Biotronic Genesis” is still a great piece of technical/prog thrash that deserves to be checked out.