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Cruise Control Set for Mediocrity - 62%

TheStormIRide, November 12th, 2014
Written based on this version: 2014, CD, Iron Shield Records (Limited edition)

Formed in 2002, Guerra Total is a Colombia blackened speed/thrash act that is obsessed with two things: zombies and Cthulhu. The band has been quite productive since their debut demo in 2008, with no less than twelve releases in six years, with the latest being 2014′s Cthulhu Zombies & Anti-Cosmic Black Goats, which serves as the band’s fifth full length. Guerra Total owes their sound to an amalgamation of early Teutonic thrash, dirty, trashy speed metal and the primitive styling of the first wave of black metal.

Cthulhu Zombies & Anti-Cosmic Black Goats sees the band continuing down the same path that previous endeavors set them on. Although nothing has really changed with the band’s sound over the years, this album just doesn’t strike with the same ferocity as previous albums. The rampant speed metal solos and thrashing, blackened riffs are still available in full supply, so it’s difficult to place a finger on exactly what is holding this album back, but it’s there. Starting off with an intro and the scorchingly thrashy “Anti-Cosmic Chaos”, with its balls to the walls blasting drums and ferocious speed metal soloing, the band sets expectations high. After the opener, though, the tracks begin to stagnate, with no real variation or anything to make them stand out. There are some pieces that make waves, like the chunky speed metal riffs buried in the middle of a few tracks or the gang chorus on “Iä, Iä, Cthulhu Fhtagn!”, but ultimately it sounds like the band just set cruise control at slightly below par.

The production forces the vocals way to front and manages to muddy the guitars so the speedy riffs begin to coagulate with the rhythm section. This soupy mix makes it hard to focus on what used to be Guerra Total’s primary attraction; the raging guitar riffs. The drums are on overdrive, focusing on high speed double bass runs and maniacal thrash beats and the vocals are raspy and feral screams dripping with South American inflections. Unfortunately the sub par production and the lack of continuity drag this album down. A stronger focus on mixing up the delivery or tempo could work wonders, but even doing that the production value is still shit.

Guerra Total has some mighty fine albums in their discography so it really is a shame that they dropped the ball here. While Cthulhu Zombies & Anti-Cosmic Black Goats has some decent moments, it’s a lackluster effort that is forgotten soon after it’s played. If you’re looking for primitive and grimy blackened thrashing with doses of speed metal, there are a ton of bands out there that have completely nailed the style. Proceed with caution.

Written for The Metal Observer.