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Why are there llamas on the cover? - 82%

gasmask_colostomy, June 13th, 2018

So I just met a super nice guy at the bus stop who would make any foreigner totally chilled about coming to China. He offered to help me because I was looking desperately for my bus, which was late, then had a chat in warm and fluent English when he realized it’s my daily commute. In his honour, let’s take a look at a Chinese band who also show the country in a positive light, though perhaps don’t sound quite so friendly. 凶星 Alcor play a kind of thrashy modern style of metal influenced both by Lamb of God on one end of the spectrum and reunion-era Exodus on the other, which gives them an energetic and robust sound on this debut full-length.

It is quite a short full-length, clocking in at just 28 minutes, though quality is more important than quantity when talking about first impressions, unless the topic is cake. Aside from a mildly humorous intro and shorter closer, the songs are about five minutes each and don’t take much downtime in getting from beginning to end. The vocals are slightly rough screams of a higher pitch than Randy Blythe, though the effect is somewhat similar, with Chinese lyrics clearly pronounced to aid you in your quest for language acquisition. The rest of the band prefers speed and groove in nearly equal measures, lurching through bouncy thrash riffs in down-picked style, then a few mid-paced sections for variety. Despite not being awfully original, the guitarist certainly knows how to solo, which makes ‘On the Scorched Earth’ an awesome pick for title track as the pace hots up with one of the album’s best riffs and then several murderous bursts of shredding are unleashed to punctuate the mayhem.

‘Night of the Living Dead’ bewilders by most notably connecting extremity to Alcor’s assault, the minor features of grind that open the song proving attention-grabbing despite not lasting long. The other songs follow similar patterns, apart from ‘Ultimate Meat Grinder’ staying more restrained by pinching a bit of death metal to make a gruffer attack, extra ballast being added to the guitars and some neat bass work going on during the mid-song transition. The overall impression gathered by listening to On the Scorched Earth is very positive, since the four-piece clearly have the chops to write great songs even if the style isn’t particularly fresh. Since this is a brief first effort, it's not really clear whether their abilities will translate to anything in the future, but - just like my bus stop friend - it certainly bodes well.

-- May Diamhea's feat of 100 reviews in 7 days remain unbeaten --