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Metallica, Meet Blind Guardian. - 95%

Grey Sabbath, April 7th, 2018

Does modern thrash metal just feel too… samey, to you? Are you sick of the purely speed-focused retro thrashing and hardcore punk vocals? Do you long for the days when thrash metal had it's theatrical edge and could elegantly ebb and flow through atmosphere and adrenaline? Perhaps you're a fan of the power-thrash stylings of Iced Earth or Manticora and need something to scratch that itch again? If all of this describes you, well, if this wasn't what the doctor ordered…

Not much is known of the up-and-coming U.K. thrash unit Born of Ire (including their lineup as I write this). They just came into the earth and plopped out an album to infinitesimal fanfare. Taking a little look at the “recently added” section of this very site led me to find this gem, and certainly fate was doing me a favor.

By both underground and first album standards, this album is a bonafide thrashterpiece. This album is so meticulously put together, like the band really busted their asses to prove themselves to the world that they care about their craft as opposed to just throwing something together to have an album to their name.

The production is especially good for such an underground release. Every single element is given ample space to be heard while still maintaining that thick and heavy sound, and you better believe that the guitar tones are thick and heavy. The songwriting is masterful in execution, being very high and grandiose in nature while holding true the aggression and furious virtuosity of thrash metal. These guys obviously pray to a copy of Metallica’s “...And Justice For All” placed on an altar every night. The theatrical melodies of the vocals and guitar solos take the albums to borderline power metal realms. With the melodic scale soloing obviously emulating the masterwork of Marcus Siepen and Andre Olblich, combined with the vocalist’s melodically guttural style shining with influence from God-himself Hansi Kursch with a dash of James Hetfield’s signature swagger, the Blind Guardian comparison should be plain to see.

This album really runs the gambit with all that can be done with thrash. As with most thrash albums, the first song (after the intro track “No Evil) is a high-velocity powerhouse meant to hook the listener in. “Marionette” does its job very well, and it's the perfect starting point to get your feet wet of you're not quite sure of the album yet. Instead of jolly fast song after jolly fast song, the album instead gives you a fast-paced power metal anthem (“Devil to Pay in the Badlands”), some brooding, slower paced songs (“Liar’s Rhythm” and “Spire”), an experimental track with some technical riffing (“Cold Stone Sky”), a thrash classic straight out of the 80’s (listen to “Asylum” and tell me it isn't some long lost demo rerecorded in the modern day), and if the Metallica comparison still hasn't clicked, an eclectic and mountainous 11-minute instrumental (“At the Foot of the Mountain”). After you've rewarded yourself with experiencing the bulk of the album, you get treated with a completely pissed off finale that lets loose with an unabridged thrashing assault. The album starts off with a hard hitter, then slowly builds up over time, and the release is simply ecstasy.

Their sound may not be wholly original when compared to its inspirations, but it's a breath of fresh air in the midst of its contemporaries. Great music like this doesn't deserve to go unnoticed, and these guys have generously made the album available on most mainstream services, YouTube included. Do yourself a favor and give it a try. These guys have earned it.