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Erosion of the German Thrash Metal Sanity - 93%

bayern, June 1st, 2017

It’s amazing how obscure Erosion remained, and still are, provided that they had four whole full-lengths released, also having in mind that 80% of the 80’s thrash metal formations barely lasted long enough for the eventual sophomore showing. There’s absolutely no reason why they should remain less known than other German underground heroes like Iron Angel, Darkness, Assassin, Vendetta, Necronomicon… And yet not many metalheads were aware of their existence back then. They started strongly with “Mortal Agony”, a charming, albeit rough-around-the-edges, blend of fierce headbangers and stunning technical escapades the latter placing them in the vicinity of luminaries like Coroner, Deathrow, Sieges Even and Toxik. Still, the guys’ bashing spirit, sometimes also expressed through a covert hardcore attitude, was taking the upper hand more often than the technical/progressive metal lovers would have liked, and the latter could only hope that on the potential second coming the more complex adherences would reach full bloom…

What were the band’s thoughts on that, you may wonder? Well, the album reviewed here nicely provides the answer to this question, whether you like it or not… The guys’ scattered, flippant, volatile genius has only slightly been placed within more tangible structures. The technical/progressive flourishes have by all means been increased, but most of the time they sound like sketches for something grand and magnanimous which never materializes. Still, even in its dishevelled, chaotic, randomly assembled layout this effort has quite a few pleasant surprises for the more adventurous listener. The technical over-the-top thrash/crossover melee, coming after a weird prolonged doomy inauguration, on the opening “H” already more than suffice for one to get the idea, nearly 4-min of hyper-intricate jumpy hectic music the guys throwing tons of riffs at the unsuspecting fan without any seeming logical arrangement… It’s difficult to foresee where the album could go from here, but it does, with “The Scourge”, a manic frenetic shredder which at least keeps to relatively more orthodox riff-patterns although the mid-break will make anyone’s head spin. The title-track begins in a similar unrestrained fashion, but it’s all sudden time and tempo changes that fill in the rest of the playing time with stupendous technical rifforamas piling on top of each other in such a quick succession that the only semblance of sanity can be found in the overshouty hardcore vocals; but that’s not all since a surreal spacey stroke ala Voivod is served in the second half followed by more befuddling technicality.

“Insanity or genius”; it’ll be difficult for the fan to decide after such a depleting showdown, and fortunately the next “You Belong to Us” shreds with more linearity as much as this is possible within this “erosive” context, with speedy crescendos exploding every few seconds, but not in a very undecipherable manner. The short instrumental “Are You God?” pours more eccentricity with a pacifying balladic intro before more intellectual riffing comes to the scene creeping minimalistically with a short relevant lead section and a not very expected faster-paced epitaph on which even some vocals appear out of the blue. More “nightmares” following, like “Nightmare”, for example, a nearly 7-min jumpy doomster which Confessor would have been very proud to possess the rights for; expect twisting crawling guitars, great melodic leads, and an abrupt fast crossover dash the symbiosis formed with the rending vocals absolutely outlandish. “Strike” “strikes” with super-active riff-formulas quite reminiscent of the ones on the opener only that those here go one step forward into more bizarre Extol, Alarum, and even Gorguts-esque territory; a ravishing shredfest which evolves around relatively more conventional leaps and bounds and nice screamy leads; no vocals here. The closing “Change” has to change something in order to save the listener’s sanity from complete corrosion/erosion, and yes, the guys have been wise enough to know their audience’s threshold of tolerance as this finale is a thrash/crossover frolicer still possessing some less ordinary intrigue, but mostly of the bouncy semi-technical variety.

The exhibitions of genius are so genuine throughout that one can’t help but admire the musicians for choosing such an overwhelming, disorganized, but ultimately eventful way of execution. It will take some time for the fans to get used to this unpredictable delivery which fluctuates from stripped-down hardcore to a most labyrinthine riff “salad” within a matter of seconds. It’s debatable whether it’s the best of both worlds that the guys have assembled here due to the music’s fairly contrasting at times character, but at least in this case, compared to the debut, the technical/progressive elements by all means dominate the landscape bringing the whole multi-faceted carnival not very far from same year’s Mekong Delta’s “Dances of Death”, Forbidden’s “Twisted into Form”, and Sacrosanct’s “Truth is What is”. Under the circumstances, there was still something left to be desired, some underlying order had to be established in the future for the band to shine more brightly… cause the potential for that was definitely there.

Nah, that was obviously the end of the “madness”; which is sad cause the guys could have pulled themselves together for another similar spell the way Deathrow and Mekong Delta did; which would have coincided with the rise of the technical/progressive thrash metal wave in their homeland where Erosion could have played one of the major roles. Alas, the band weren’t willing to be a part of it obviously; “III” was logically the third instalment that appeared two years later, and it was a turn towards the hardcore/crossover heritage with vestiges of both thrash and more intriguing embellishments; a fairly direct no-bars-held approach which was lightly complicated on the following “Down…” (1995), their swansong, that also saw them embracing some of the modern post-thrashy aesthetics in a pretty convincing semi-technical/semi-progressive way. Not a completely bad continuation, but not fully chaotic and flamboyantly dishevelled enough…

So the “madness” wasn’t exactly over with these ”Thoughts” in 1990, but it reached its culmination on them from a both super-stylized and not very digestible aspect. The band had their fun, they walked with, or probably underneath, the finest, they gave the fanbase a lot of food for “insane” thoughts, and they even provided a template for future practitioners to elaborate on which, judging by the hordes of hyper-technical riffmongers swarming the scene at present, mostly coming from the death metal camp, has been paid the necessary amount of attention. Eroded? By all means, bringing the German thrash metal movement on the edge of sanity. Obscure? Well, I’ll have to have second, or even third, thoughts about that… least they tried - 60%

autothrall, February 3rd, 2011

Continuing their quota for hideous or underwhelming cover images, Erosion returned two years post-Mortal Agony for their second album, a step forward in aggression that doesn't sacrifice the band's minor, clinical tech-thrash leanings. Thoughts is not necessarily more thoughtful than the debut, but the band seemed to have a firmer grasp on what they are trying to achieve here, which is to alternate the sheer force of mosh oriented thrash with spikes of claustrophobic calamity. Chris Zenk has dialed up his own vitriol here, with vocals that only begin with Mille or Tom Angelripper, tortured enough that it feels as if his entrails were being systematically removed with a crude, sharp instrument throughout the recording process.

Alas, Thoughts is an example of an album which had a lot of ideas going into its inception, but few that will remain rattling around your skull once the 33 minutes have ended. Riffs often feel very disjointed, as if they were simply being thrown together into loose structures that don't really alter the emotional or violent impact of the composition. Examples would be the blustering of "The Scourge" or the gravity defying title track, which both contains some cool guitars colliding against much filler writing. "Thoughts" in particular shows some real progression from the debut, almost as if it were a leftover from Voivod's Dimension Hatross sessions with a more blunt and hostile vocalist at the fore. A little deeper into the procession, "Nightmare" lurches forward on heavy legs, straining for momentum but evoking at least a few moments of atmosphere, while the instrumental "Strike" provides a good chunk of the album's better riffs, and would have only benefited from vocals.

The only track that I'd actually dub 'shit' is the final piece, "Change", which is some bizarre rock festival that feels sporadic and tacked on, though there is some structure to the guitars. Zenk has an overbearing venom in his voice here not unlike Sabbat's Martin Walkyier, but really, this song just does not belong with the rest. It sucks. But then, the rest of Thoughts is hardly worth getting excited for. I don't much care for the crunchy, crisp tone of the guitars here, which serves to somewhat drown out the bass, and even though the band play very well in time, there is this pervasive, sloppy effervescence that leaves an unwelcome stench behind. That said, it's not a bad album if you like a mix of raw aggression and proficiency in your thrash. Just don't expect it to dwell in your own 'thoughts' for very long.