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Columbian Thrashing Power - 76%

Sevenchurch, March 14th, 2014

Now I have probably been snoozing, but a black metal tinged thrash band on I Hate struck me as a little unusual, Colombian or otherwise. Still, here we are. Guerra Total are, in the nicest possible way, a primitive thrash metal band: By this I mean late 80s when Venom, Razor etc were charging up and down fretboards with total abandon with nimble fingers and melodic little runs amongst the carnage. They have a vocal attack like the best/worst of Venom and Darkthrone (snap and snarl recorded in a biscuit tin down the hall) and one gear but plenty of dancing around that full speed ahead setting. Guerra Total are also slightly zombie and H.P. Lovecraft obsessed amongst the God hating. And hard working (fourth full length in as many years and a load of EPs and splits before.) This is of course all good. And actually so is the album.

I'm not going to claim that there is anything new or innovative here. But what you do get is ten cracking thrash songs characterized by fast riffing with lightning melodic flourishes of notes hanging off the end of every one. Songs like 'Misanthropist God', 'Satan's Army Of The Apocalypse', 'El Color Cayo Del Cielo' and 'Nuklear Zombie Division' kind of sound exactly like they should sound: Fast, spiky, heavy but not made from concrete and resplendent with whiplash and hooks. Really it's just a great old skool riot in here with breakout lead work, the sparse bit of slower time swiftly swamped by the amphetamine fueled guitar rush and just a total abandonment of anything since about 1993. It's just such a rush and such fun that you can't help but embrace them.

Big tunes, big fun, great thrash.

Previously published at http://www.avenoctum.com/

Fulci lives! - 73%

mad_submarine, February 28th, 2014

When I started listening to the promo of this album I had no idea where these guys come from; what kind of stuff they sing about etc. so basically all of the associations I could've made were based on pure guessing. And it all sounded to me like a zombie apocalypse in a hellish Amazonian jungle. Forty minutes of downtrodden evil zombie attacks. And thrash.

Guerra Total means 'total war' and they live up to their name. The album starts with a horror soundtrack of distant tortured voices and kicks in with a pretty intense riffage somehow similar in structure to Exodus's piranha. It gives you the impression that you're followed by a horde of disintegrating zombies while their flesh keeps falling apart. The vocals are more 'black thrash' in style and sound as unprofessional and obscure as you'd probably expect for such release.

All of the album follows a similar pace and structure with my personal highlights being the moments when the solos kick in. There are plenty of "ugh" moments when the guitar slows in for some time to give time for the soloing to get totally crazy in contrast with the other moments. The problem, if you need to find one is that it is all basically the same kind of riffing. I listened to that album three times and no songs really stand out. The solos are really smooth and the general delivery is quite awesome, it's definitely a decent album. However, there's some more that could be done for it. In my personal view the drumming is pretty weak (it might be the production) and in general some of the instruments sound buried in an uncool way. If you're hardcore thrash fan you'd probably love that though.

Ticket to Hellride - 75%

autothrall, December 8th, 2013

Colombia's brutal death scene has been reasonably well documented, even if it's still deep underground, but this South American nation has honestly had no shortage of metal from other extremities, particularly black or blackened thrash/speed, the latter niche being occupied by one Guerra Total ('Total War'). These guys have been churning out a new record each year since 2010 under this name, but had a fairly substantial history beforehand for about a decade, and I must say...they've been markedly improving which each release. This latest, El Armagedón Continúa, arriving through Sweden's I Hate records, fits in rather snugly with the scene emerging from countries like Finland, Canada, Sweden, Norway and the States, and while it's a little nastier than a band like Midnight, Speedtrap or Speedwolf, it definitely scratches a comparable itch to names like Antichrist or Deathhammer, perhaps even some of Sabbat's flightier infernalisms such as Sabbatrinity.

Granted, this is a legacy far older, with a lot of the riffing motifs lifted off classics like Kill 'Em All or Show No Mercy, cultivating the same general aesthetic once pioneered by Bathory, Destruction, Motörhead and Venom, but it's not something I ever seem to grow tired of as long as it's performed well. And, thanks to the raw but clear production choices on this record, I've had a lot of fun listening through it. Rhythm guitar progressions use a lot of the hammered, trilling hi-octane techniques you've heard in this particular field many a time, but combined with meatier mid-paced thrashing chord chugs, splayed out trad metal 4-chord backing patterns for an airier feel, and lightning melodic leads which seem slightly more controlled than the haphazard spasms you'd predict from the usual Slayer-philes. They also throw in some wah wah effects and others to build a real balance and atmosphere to the record that more than compensates for its generally raw mix and undercooked ideas. The vocalist has a pretty impish rasp going on, though I admit I prefer when he's singing in Spanish, it just drips with a more natural sense of character and malevolence...not that he's a slouch in English, where he sounds like a less pronounced Quorthon from the earlier records, but it doesn't give the material that same sense of place...like I don't feel as if I'm being run down through a rainforest by Satanic cocaine dealers with machetes...to whom I owe a great deal of money.

I actually quite liked the sense of 'distance' in the production, almost like you're listening to it in an empty futbol stadium, sitting too low to receive the brunt of the drums or rhythm guitars, but when those leads burst out in tunes like "Misanthropist God" they totally take over the space. The bass is a little low and in truth this is not a heavily 'low end' sort of recording, but it's enough that I can make out the lines, which are basically just following along with the rhythm riffs. The drums aren't insanely technical, which wouldn't fit this sort of nostalgic songwriting, but they're peppy and vivacious and blaze along at a strong clip and volume. Really, though, the production is going to turn off some and titillate others. You want brickwalled, dense Pro Tools melodic death/thrash that sounds like it was written in the 21st century? El Armagedón Continúa is not likely to fulfill that desire. Nothing here is 'new', or for that matter very creative. But if you want an album to seem like it was recorded in the back of some van pimped out with spikes and machine guns, Mad Max-style, while the driver and passengers hurl empties out the windows in a rabid pursuit of their own Sentence of Death or Welcome to Hell, along the highway TO Hell, then Guerra Total has your number on speed-dial and they're crank-calling you for about 40 minutes of jeering, jubilant, incendiary entertainment. Poseurs and pedestrians beware! Hail speed! And hail Satan!

-autothrall
http://www.fromthedustreturned.com