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Escape into a World of Morbid, Angelic Fantasies - 92%

bayern, October 13th, 2017

This outfit are probably the best known of the “forgotten American metal heroes” series as they put themselves quite early on the official release map with the excellent “Armageddon Descends” EP, an elaboration, and also an improvement, over the band’s first two demos which were primal, rough-around-the-edges slabs of US power/speed metal. Said EP introduced some really intriguing technical thrash motifs that very nicely added to the guys’ arsenal, making them one of the pioneers of the movement in their homeland, and even worldwide, their delivery clinging more towards the warmer, power-metal-induced “hallucinations” of Ulysses Siren than the hectic mathematical jazzisms of Watchtower, to mention the other two innovators in this trend.

Despite this effort’s undeniable high qualities, the band continued operating on an underground level, for some mysterious reason, with the 1987 demo, a sloppily produced concoction of high-octane speed/thrashers the better batch of which found their way on the demo reviewed here, a major step forward from both a production and a compositional aspect, and arguably the guys’ finest hour. “In Misery” starts the saga, a consummate progressive thrasher with an officiant stomping beginning which quickly gives way to sweeping speedy crescendos and intriguing technical implements, this compelling “duel” not giving too many chances to the subdued semi-clean, not very expressive singer to shine; near proto-death intensity arrives later to cause a few shudders down the listener’s spine who will experience quite a few aggressive moments on this diverse shredder.

“Solemnly Sworn” is a short speedy rager with clever, less ordinary riffage embedded into a hyper-active template which is also enhanced by shouty choruses, episodic screamy leads, and plenty of lashing more technical “excursions” the latter brought to their perfection a bit later on Toxik’s “World Circus”. “Vendetta” introduces a wider gamut of tempo changes with heavy stomps occupying the first few minutes before nice technical pirouettes rise out of the blue, their sophisticated stride rudely broken by the fast-paced strokes in the second half. “Inflictor of Innocence” is a seismic technical thrashterpiece, a smattering aggressive shredder with a constantly bouncing rhythm-section recalling Coroner, and short impetuous gallops aggravating the atmosphere which reaches a fever pitch near the end. “Nuclear Crucifixion” is a fairly dynamic, almost chaotic, epitaph the band calling more proto-death bashing for help, still finding time for a few more technical developments those later heard on the works of Hexx (check the title of that band’s 1991 album), Vacant Grave, Hellwitch, and Vicious Circle, the vocalist shouting more passionately on this one, finally making himself heard amongst the vitriolic, stylish rifforamas.

A bit ahead of its time, this obscure gem showed the band with an eye on the future when the technical thrash/death metal hybrids became the vogue for a while. Not as compulsively aggressive to be labelled as such, this demo by all means nicely suggested that there could be more brutality to be extracted from the thrash metal formula if the latter would be spiced with the vital elusive ingredient which Death had already started propagating far’n wide.

I doubt if the band would have jumped this wagon if they had lasted longer; the bigger intensity witnessed here at times could only be viewed as just a passing throw-in rather than an intentional disturber. With the high level of musicianship displayed all over the band would have made more heads turn with the growing demand in more technical ways of execution in the late-80’s. Alas, they were a foregone conclusion before the end of the decade with two members later joining Fear of God for the recording of “Toxic Voodoo”. The “The Years of Mercy” compilation, released in 2004, is an invaluable source for those who want to get acquainted with the band, containing their entire discography. No signs of life from their camp as of now; if they have voted to have mercy on our poor souls, then they should know that we all start eating our hearts out, right as we speak because of that.