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Familiar kreation - 74%

gasmask_colostomy, May 24th, 2019

I’m sure that Guillotine have heard this before, but they sure do wear their Kreator influence on their sleeves (six sleeves, because there’s three members). If you call your debut album Under the Guillotine, most metalheads will assume that it’s in homage to the classic song of the same name from the extreme thrash full-length Pleasure to Kill, which was Kreator’s sophomore album. Making the assumption that Guillotine also play a grim strain of thrash is absolutely correct, though admittedly they temper the straight-up worship with the speedier character seen in very early Destruction and even some other speed/thrash units, such as Razor or recent disciples to the sound Vulture.

Erring closer to the Razor perspective in terms of songwriting, these Swedes get everything done quickly, slim songs flashing by in a little over three minutes each, usually focusing on rhythmic riffs that dart out of a well-rounded – if non-threatening – production, then adding in some thrash breaks and more classic-sounding solos. You’ll get the picture about Under the Guillotine within the first two songs, since the album takes the relentless route to success, not bothering with any variety or alternative styles, but simply gunning for the finish line as fast as possible. The first time I listened to this, the music player was on repeat and I didn’t realize that the first song had started again. That’s how similar these 10 cuts sound.

Nonetheless, that doesn’t mean that Guillotine get boring, since the speedy riffs that make use of plenty of right hand exchange places at key moments with bouncier grooves that remind of crossover thrash songs as they lurch into the mosh section. ‘Grave Desecrator’ is a good example of how well this works when all the riffs are solid, each transition taking no more than a simple fill from drummer Cobra to effect. Occasionally, the bass gets in on the action too, pumping warmly through ‘Guillotine’ and proving that Snake (do you think Cobra was trying to outdo him?) deserves to be just where he is in the mix. The sharp guitars are played by Spider and stay in focus while the bass gives breadth to the sound: the total effect is slightly soft, though the rasping vocals make sure this isn’t too friendly, bordering black thrash territory at more aggressive moments, reminding especially of Witchtrap. ‘Tormentor’ gets the most blackened in its early verses.

Without changing the formula in the slightest (there’s not even a slow break) for 34 minutes, Guillotine do a pretty good job of making Under the Guillotine engaging. A massive total of riffs powers the songs along and the leads nicely complement the free-flowing rhythm style, while the changes in pace from flat-out to mid-paced groove are the most satisfying part of the release. The band split up the year after this debut, yet a reformation 10 years later produced the follow-up Blood Money, which consolidated the same strengths into a thrashier final product. I’m telling you that the debut is unimaginative, decent stuff that may also prove palatable to fans of Kreator and Vulture.