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Unmitigated Thrashing Skullcrushery. - 90%

hells_unicorn, December 5th, 2012

Thrash metal has come to be many things to many different people. If early Voivod or Vektor be one's poison, then a world of bizarre Sci-fi phenomena is the ultimate conclusion, while the blackened corridors of early Bathory and Slayer will take one down the creepy world of the occult. However, it is arguable that the purest and roots-based mode of thrash is one that veers closer to its punk roots where real life events, politics and personal struggles tend to be the preferred subject of discussion, hence the later coined "green" strain of the sub-genre. The only catch to taking this route is the common accusation that this approach tended to accompany a drier, less extravagant musical approach as typified in the early 90s thrash at half-speed sound of "Impact Is Imminent" and 'The American Way". But when social critique can be merged with a violent, old school thrash style presented in a new an interesting way, these are the makings of a new classic.

If there is a place where presenting an aggressive style in a new and intricate way, Canada would seem to be the likely place given its recent history of successful experiments in progressive music. However, most historic examples of merging progressive methods with thrash in Canada have been extremely hit or miss, taking Annihilator as the most prominent example. But by a rather interesting turn of events, a new wind has begun to blow, and its name is Alphakill. Sporting a name that would indicate a nasty, hard-hitting approach not all that far removed from a lot of the newer red thrash outfits, they've taken an approach that can be best described as a very happy medium between the punchy, straightforward approach of early Bay Area thrash with a less conventional approach to songwriting than even the typically adventurous later adherents to said sound in the later 80s like Death Angel and Heathen. All the best elements of Metallica, Exodus, Testament and several others have been distilled into a potent yet multifaceted wrecking machine dubbed "Unmitigated Disaster".

At first impression, this album comes off like orthodox early Metallica worship with maybe a hint of early Exodus, in no small part because of the constant barrage of riffs and fast paced drumming, not to mention a vocalist that sounds remarkably similar to a young James Hetfield meets a more nimble Chuck Billy. Fast paced excursions into the typical exploits of neck-breaking thrashing and crowd pleasing such as "Thrash Eternal" and "Becoming The Alpha" are steeped in lyrical cliche right out of the "Kill Em' All" and "Bonded By Blood", and the songs do tend to follow a similar riff template, though the amount of total musical content is a bit larger and more aggressive. But as things progress, a somewhat more contemporary character begins to develop, one that isn't completely oblivious to some changes in the metal scene that occurred during the early 90s and beyond. Indeed, one can't help but immediately identify a casual familiarity between the eerie intro of "The Age Of The Debt Slaves" and some of the spacey elements heard on Death's "Human", though a healthy bit of "Victims Of Deception" and "...And Justice For All" comes along for the ride to bolster the implicit grandiose feel of this 6-minute plus epic.

It's difficult to fully pin down one specific discipline from the mix going on here, though the influences tend to be far more green and red than black or gray. Lyrically, the multifaceted critique of a world plagued with social strife, manipulative politicians and natural disasters only occasionally gives way to the celebratory character of early Metallica and Tankard where simple booze and metal worship were sufficient, though the best word-based content found on here is reserved for "Let Me Die", casting a cold air of reality on the issue of pulling the plug in a manner rivaled only by the eerie music video of Metallica's "One". Similarly, the mix of restrained melody and unfettered chaos that dominates the title song "Unmitigated Disaster" is contrasted quite nicely by the methodical and straightforward speeder "Rebellion", both walking a delicate line between hitting the right hooks and avoiding being too conventional, yet the former hinting at the zenith of stylistic adventure and expansion of the early 90s while the latter sounds more along the lines of a plainer, mid-80s assault in the mold of "Bonded By Blood".

This band definitely chose an appropriate name because their debut album kills it from pretty much every possible angle. It manages to bridge the gap between the needed conservatism that goes with maintaining a pure thrashing sound, yet isn't satisfied to simply relive the mid 80s through the eyes of one singular scene or band. It's the sort of album that keeps finding new ways to surprise the listener even after receiving regular play for several weeks. Definitely keep an eye on Alphakill as they prepare to launch their beta opus.

Originally submitted to (www.metal-observer.com) on December 15, 2012.