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Guess They’ll Always Be Soldiers of the Underground - 91%

bayern, November 16th, 2017

There was quite a bit of greatness that remained buried in the Swiss underground in the 80’s. While the world easily found out about Coroner, Celtic Frost, and Messiah, not many were those aware of a not very tapped pool comprising acts like Poltergeist, Calhoun Conquer, Megora, Lunacy, Apocalypse, Excruciation, etc. Drifter were a part of this pool, and by all means deserve a mention for several reasons, but primarily for their interest in the American power metal movement as reflected on their early demos; something that wasn’t exactly a very frequent phenomenon in Europe in the mid-80’s.

By the time the album reviewed here appeared, however, the band also developed a taste for more aggressive ways of expression which included a hefty doze of the good, already old thrash, and the title-track would be a delight for a wider gamut of fans with its diverse approach which shifts from hard-hitting rifforamas to melodic epic build-ups the vocalist greatly helping the latter side with his soaring emotional clean timbre. The combination also has a characteristic folk-ish aura, think Skyclad’s first two, as well as a not very overt technical flair; in other words, the amalgam is by all means interesting as the guys try to give thrash more chances later which leads to heavy shredders like “Crime of a Lifetime” which gallops with the finest out there among the few lyrical respites; and to more progressive exercises with echoes of Sabbat like “Spiritual Diary of Oppression” this one a total qualifier for “Dreamweaver” with the alluring melodies, the intricate riff-patterns, and the courageous headbanging escapades.

“No Fear of the Future” follows a similar less ordinary pattern with dramatic pounding riffage descending upon the bemused listener who will by all means appreciate the memorable rhythmic leaps and bounds before infernal steel gallops ala Helstar make the situation even more attractive not without the help of the memorable shouty chorus. “Senseless Death” concentrates on more immediate lashing thrash, and works fine again assisted by a couple of great more technical configurations and the staple epic dramatic developments, the singer unleashing several hellish screams to spice the proceedings. “Burning Circles” is served with a more uplifting speed metal flavour the band “winking” at the Angel Dust sophomore, among other prime examples of the style, with the nice chorus elaborations and the more engaging progressive setting. “Highlander” returns to the more intense thrashy models being a short immediate headbanger, and “Banners of the Battlefield” is the definitive battle-rouser the vocals becoming more belligerent in contrast to the complex execution which borders on progressive power metal ala Slauter Xstroyes and mid-period Manilla Road, the lead guitarist making a fine showing dexterously assisting the intelligent melodic rifforamas which are stunned by the close to a min jocund take on Richie Vallenca’s “La Bamba” that wraps on the album in an unexpected crossover-ish fashion.

That last joke aside, this effort really stands its own ground with a fairly original approach, ready to give the mentioned British legends a very good run for their money any time. The elaborate soundscapes flow effortlessly, and are never overdone; in fact, there’s never any overt intricacy to be come across the guys following their own path which sometimes passes through a more linear, sometimes through a more challenging passage the plot never lost, the band ensuring the catchy character of every track be it with a cool chorus, or with the presence of a specific melodic hook; a package where everyone will find something to like as there will be few frowning of befuddled faces in the audience.

The sophomore clung more towards thrash and was consequently a more aggressive offering, but the characteristic epic/progressive configurations were all covered for the completion of another eventful roller-coaster that should have catapulted the guys to the spotlight. That never happened, unfortunately, but they never lost hope and continued teasing the music industry with a string of demo releases that lasted all the way to the end of the 90’s, including with the two other projects they started in the mean time, the thrash/crossover “gods” Gods of Noise (one album, “The Silence of Noise”, 1993), and the heavy metal formation Mana Prime that lasted a bit longer, and crossed over into the new millennium.

As no commercial results were produced on any front, the guys abandoned all these endeavours and split up. They reformed in 2005 and managed one more demo five years later which really hit the mark with their staple classic brand of complex power/thrash, but shortly after the band were no more again. I guess some heroes are destined to remain unsung, drifting in the underground from one episodic appearance to another, but always retaining their indignant, untarnished stance.