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Witnessing the rising tide. - 80%

Diamhea, June 2nd, 2015

The foreboding artwork by the always-enthralling Pär Olofsson should alleviate any concerns that Denmark's Impalers are yet another cadre of rethrash coattail-riders, and I'll be damned - the band actually follows through with this encouraging first impression. Some time ago I appraised Belgium's Bloodrocuted, who proved to me that Europe is the current hotbed for modern thrash acts, espousing nothing of the fifth-rate Exodus and Nuclear Assault worship that has driven the American scene into the depths of self-parody (and below). To me, Impalers sound like they are trying to evoke the long-exorcised specters of the '80s German scene, featuring a marked Kreator influence along with more than a few tricks up their collective sleeve. Damn, I'm really digging this!

Featuring an appreciably warm yet honed and surgical production job, God from the Machine takes advantage of its year of release, yet is conscious of its throwback appeals. Riffs are clinical and austere, razing the landscape and generating a positive response from these ears. A divisive level of experimentation obviously isn't a required part of Impalers' protocol, but I did appreciate the album's ability to spark interest outside of the standard poser-slaying configuration. "Future Void's" acoustic opening seems pretty standard fare at first blush, but a few tracks later the band furls brows with the surprising and poignant thrash ballad "Beyond Trinity," which sort of strikes a moving balance between "Fade to Black" and something like Overkill's "Soulitude." Even more stimulating is the eight-plus minute roller coaster of tonality that is "The Walls of Eryx." This serves as a virile and energetic swell of creativity that stands out amongst the punchier fare that comprises the majority of the record. The back-and-forth diversion employed between the acoustic padding and storming riffing intervals reminds me of some of Annihilator's better instrumental bits.

Concerning individual performances, proceedings are still looking up. Crawack's vocals are your pretty typical raspy spewing of syllables associated with the style, but I actually prefer his work on the earlier EP Prepare for War. Here, he seems too preoccupied with trying to lampoon Mille Petrozza's vile sneer (he isn't bad at it, mind) - mixing it up with a few death growls and half-shouts. I really like it when he uses the latter, but either way there is enough variation to keep eyes from rolling back into heads. Crawack also has a fucking slingshot of a picking hand, ossifying the rhythm section into an immobile bulwark of molten competence by virtue of his precision chugging. Carnell then takes the reigns, soaring all about and executing a clinic on melodic thrash leadwork. "The Walls of Eryx" is obviously where he enjoys the most exposure, but that isn't to discount the smattering of harmonized dual-leads that are scattered about the more direct and visceral numbers. The title track, for example, is a tense and disorienting descent that would integrate fluidly within the catalogues of the acts Impalers bow before.

In the end, God from the Machine stands out as one of the best modern thrash albums not released by a veteran act. This very well may end up topping my year-end list for the genre, and evokes the same sense of anger and velocity ingrained within the best of the formative years, yet I rarely get the sense that the band is playing thrash from the worn out instruction manual. There are enough striking deviations to color an already vibrant menagerie of appeals, and those fond of the Teutonic trio of terror that need not be named should add God from the Machine to their want list.