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Broken necks, beer and pretzels - 80%

autothrall, March 1st, 2010

Probably the best band ever named for anything from the Arnold Schwarzenegger flop the Last Action Hero; Jack Slater have been slowly refining themselves throughout the years and their past 3 albums into a force to be reckoned with, growing more impressive both technically and through their songcraft. Extinction Aftermath arrives and essentially crushes the band's entire backlog at once while proving that this band is on the cusp of Germany's finest death metal, and seeing how Germany has a LOT of death metal bands these days, that is, in fact, saying alot.

Jack Slater are in that rare position where they balance both a high level of proficiency, including the usual arpeggiation and other guitar tricks that have tech death maniacs dropping their jaws, and enough slamming riffs and chugging breakdowns that those into the more violent social elements of death metal can also appreciate them without having to grab a towel and hang up their mosh sweaty moshing bodies. But most importantly, they write quite a few songs here that just rock your face off. Vocalist Horn has a deep, grasping rumble to his tone which actually does catapult through a range of emotions if you can pay close enough attention, and this makes him infinitely more interesting than many of his peers. The band also has a thing for melodies, rare through this type of brutality, but nevertheless tracks like "Pheromon" and the almost sludgy, pounding "4 8 15 16 23 42" are ample evidence.

Extinction Aftermath is a well-balanced album, with more thrashing, energetic numbers like the title track or "Dysrythmia" that should appeal to fans of bands like Revocation, Theory in Practice or Centaurus-A. "Funkenflug" and the aforementioned "4 8 15 16 23 42" have more of a full, pensive feel to them with larger, adventurous chords and a punchy series of grooves. Then you've got tracks like "Omniscience" and "Konstrukt" that just directly flatten you with a mixture of intense, barbaric fast paced death metal and bone-breaking grooves. The album stays tight and focused through all 10 songs and 34 minutes of material, and the production is the same top of the line job you'd expect from Polish death metal or the better produced deathcore you may have encountered. It sounds new, and it sounds fresh.

That said, about the only issue I could take with this album were a few of the very generic palm mute grooves, which often felt so much less interesting than the band's other riffs, which kick ass. There are certainly a few riffs on the album where you'll feel a straight groove metal influence, but these are sparse and often they do work well within the framework of the track. The lyrics are in German but I doubt that will stop anyone since it's all gruntwork. If you're looking for an album to flair your arms about to in the pit, or just another example of the finely crafted European death metal available to you these days, Jack Slater have outperformed themselves with this latest album and deserve your attention.

Highlights: Pheromon, Omniscience, Extinction Aftermath, 4 8 15 16 23 42