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Refreshing stuff - 80%

Idrownfish, May 23rd, 2011

The retro thrash movement has been showing signs of stagnation for quite a long time: bands that were once considered great have been releasing increasingly dull recordings, and the scene as a whole has submerged in a seemingly permanent identity crisis. Yet, every time I come across an inspired manifestation of neo-thrash I can't help but think that the genre has a lot of potential - most of which has been underused.

The fact is that while most of the contemporary thrash bands simply try to copy both the music and the style of their counterparts from the eighties, some bands dare to be creative, and the results are often far from hideous. This album is an example of how to make traditional and fast riffs that do not sound old or uninspired: even if Mortal Remains’ influences are not exactly diverse (with the possible exceptions of the vocals and the bass everything reminds you of the 80’s thrash) they managed to deliver an album that is ultimately enjoyable. The riffs are not exactly technical, but they are surely abundant and creative. The rests are used skillfully, and although most of the album fits into the “really fast” category, the band allows its music to slow down in several tracks (with Hatred being the best example).

The whole recording sounds like a constant struggle: while the band uses very traditional riffing, they try to make everything sound new and refreshing, and this attempt produced both the album’s main strength and its main weakness. Its main strength is the bass, as the instrument that is used the least in terms of thrash is clearly present here, and its presence can be felt basically everywhere. While the double bass is present, the bass is fast and makes everything sound much heavier, and when it is not every breakdown and rest seems to be an opportunity for the bass to deliver something creative, or even become the lead. Ironically, the only exception for this rule is the album’s best track, My Revenge, where the bass doesn’t do anything spectacular, choosing instead to give way to some very good guitar riffs.

The vocals, however, are a problem that becomes harder to ignore as you progress through the album. The band tried to insert black metal shrieks into 80’s thrash, and while I personally liked the idea very much, I have to admit that it sounds like crap. It could be better, really: the fact is that while the idea was at least original, it was poorly executed. The vocalist does not seem to be an expert in terms of black metal, because instead of shrieks we get an emasculated Max Cavalera that suffers from dysphonia.

This is one of those albums that make a statement about what neo-thrash can become if given the chance to flower, and while it isn’t actually necessary in anyone’s collection, it is a very nice recording that can be used to headbang all day long. The production is clean, although not necessarily crystal-clear, and the riffs are mighty, although not necessarily almighty. The vocals do harm the finishing product a bit, but trust me - this isn’t as big of a problem as it seems.