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Under the Merciless, Riff-Driven Guillotine - 93%

bayern, March 31st, 2017

Killers have been, and still are, in constant competition with the other French metal behemoth ADX for domination on the French metal scene, and although in the 80’s the other band managed to somehow edge them out, largely due to ADX’s compromise with the age-old penchant of the French metal acts to sing in their mother tongue by releasing an album in English (“Weird Visions”, 1990), in the new millennium things look radically different. Consistency pays off, and the Killers saw themselves becoming the premier French metal act of the past 25 years. A major reason for that achievement was their refusal to lay down the weapons during the difficult 90’s although they did sacrifice some of their initial speed metal vigour for the sake of the more melodic hard’n heavy sound on a few albums.

The new millennium came, and the band were back to the speed metal front with the excellent “Mauvaises Graines” (2000), a rousing collection of hyper-active antics which made the more recent works of Helloween and Gamma Ray sound pretty timid in comparison. An English version of the album was released a year later seeing the guys finally looking to expand beyond the borders of their homeland. A re-release of their classic opus “Monte aux Pongs” from 1987 was the next step before the album reviewed here hit the stores. A glorious melodic tune opens it announcing the arrival of the first “assault” titled “Le Cote Sombre” which stomps officiantly at first before the band unleash some of the fastest riffs around, still finding the time to serve a brilliant peaceful interlude. From this moment onward there’s no letting up as the guys embark on a tantalizing sweeping speed metal journey frequently bordering on the good old thrash. “Mal” thrashes with a more pounding rhythm-section avoiding the faster-paced accelerations initially, but expect a few more aggressive additives to spice things up later. “Esprit Sain” starts with the next in line portion of gorgeous melodies before the ultimate speed/thrash metal “attack” commences, the fiery blitzkrieg riffage co-existing well with the virtuous melodic leads and the several more brutal death metal-ish dashes.

“Madarikatua” carries on with the speed metal carnival on full-throttle also providing a great catchy chorus and some of the finest leads the French metal scene has ever witnessed. “Bienvenue en Enfer” is an optimistic “eagle fly free” hymn recalling the 90’s power/speed metal movement, and “Saccages” isn’t far behind concentrating on hard moshing gallops. “HM 2002” is a more volatile shredder toning down the aggression acquiring friendlier, more laid-back parametres, but “Bye Bye”, which is not the last track, is a vintage classic speed metal delight the way early Helloween, Iron Angel and Warrant used to do them in the distant past, with bits of thrash in the choppy riff applications. “Jour de Chance” is no sloucher, either, bringing back the gallops the band shredding with the utmost passion, the superb leads rising again for the umpteenth display of Shrapnel-like wizardy. “Ma Liberte” is the final piece of top-notch speed metal brilliance the guys notching up the aggression to more intense thrashy proportions to bang the head of everyone around for one last “wardance”.

A most compelling shredfest this is, and most kudos for that feat should go for Bruno Dolheguy, the founder, the frontman, the main guitar player and vocalist, and also the only permanent member all these years. The man has dedicated all his efforts to his main act, and hasn’t gotten distracted elsewhere with duties in other outfits; more respect to him for that as well, and also for keeping the high quality of the music for every subsequent album. The band found its secure place on the front echelon in the company of other speed metal purveyors like Stormwarrior, Solitaire, and the veterans Not Fragile, having not much of a competition in France. ADX, the archrivals, returned in 2008 to resume the race between the two acts, but they don’t seem up to the task this time around their new material not exactly a match to the Killers’ inspired speedy exploits, clinging more towards the power metal camp.

Dolheguy and Co. didn’t slow down after this masterpiece; on the contrary, they keep producing odes to the good old speed metal each of the four albums that followed the one reviewed here great examples of furious, riff-driven cutting metal to the bone with Dolheguy providing outstanding fretwork which borders on the operatic and the classical on the latest showing “Le Baiser de la Mort”. You can’t “kill” something that is so good, can you? Live and let live, habemus Killers!