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Hauntings and Apparitions in Full Metal Disguise - 91%

bayern, March 30th, 2017

These guys were the second genuine thrash metal act on the Swiss metal scene, if we count Celtic Frost, having started their career under the name Carrion. They managed to release one album (“Evil is There!”), a rough-around-the-edges, but highly inspired hard thrashing slab in 1986; before they decided to change their name to Poltergeist, and also to relocate to the European Mecca of metal, Germany that is. Two demos were recorded in quick succession before the band were ready with their debut, “Depression”, in 1989 seeing them practicing quite good energetic speed/thrash with more thought-out progressive developments along the lines of Paradox who had started their career around the same time.

Then their singer Andre Grieder had a short spell with the legends Destruction who asked him to take part in the recordings of their opus “Cracked Brain” due to the departure of their frontman Schmier. Once he was done with them, the next Poltergeist instalment became a fact, the album reviewed here. The guys shred like demented here producing one of Swiss metal’s finest hours which starts with “We the People”, a maddening headbanger with brisk ripping riffs and blazing lead sections. The title-track cuts heads and limbs with these sharp lashing guitars before a sweeping lead passage saves the listener from the “carnage”, later bringing galloping delights for the ride. “Act of Violence” introduces more clever technical guitar work amidst the hyper-active thrashing also boasting a very cool memorable chorus with echoes of Paradox again although music-wise the delivery is way more compact and tighter than the debut. “Grey” is a short acoustic ballad, a nice touch which also shows Grieder in a more lyrical, more attached light; and “Delusion” is a smashing galloper with intriguing technical breaks that even reach the classical crescendos of Helstar’s “Nosferatu” at some stage.

“Drilled to Kill” will start drilling the fan’s mind with razor-sharp technical riffs which are of the jumpier variety initially, but soon acquire the staple dynamic character that gets translated onto “Make Your Choice” which starts in a more elaborate manner and with a few balladic references before the technical galloping strokes resume turning later into a whirlwind of wild violent thrashing. “Chato’s Land” is a hectic nervy number which abandons the speedy approach for the sake of more moderate mid-tempo decisions where the bass plays a more prominent role. “Still Alive” is a raging blitzkrieg headbanger, the most aggressive cut here “spitting” fire and venom for about 3.5-min before “Driftin’ Away” wraps it on with minimalistic semi-balladic motifs.

This is full of so much energy that the headbanging fanbase should put it very high on their list, and in this aspect there’s hardly any other album to beat it on Swiss ground. The band occupied a unique niche over there sitting between the overtly technical exploits of Coroner, Lunacy and Calhoun Conquer, and the more orthodox delivery of acts like Drifter, Apocalypse and Caustic. Their delivery was neither too complex nor very straight-forward thus making them a sure pick for both camps. Two years later the guys shot their third showing “Nothing Lasts Forever” which showed them still immersed in the old school metal canons producing another notable tribute to the classic thrash metal heritage with more elaborate arrangements, abandoning the remorseless heads-down approach from the preceding album to an extent. They left the scene in style without surrendering to any new vogues wrapping it on alongside Coroner and Apocalypse who also released their swansongs the same year.

The guys are “back to haunt” the world of metal with “Back to Haunt” in 2016, a brand new saga, a rousing classic thrash hymns’ collection which looks back directly at their roots, putting them strongly on the map in the company of young budding newcomers from their homeland like The Artifice, Algebra, Surrealist, and Mandroid of Krypton who were looking for a veteran to lead them to the upper front of the thrash metal echelon. With Coroner not in the mood for composing any new material in the foreseeable future, it would be up to the Poltergeists to guide this young talented horde towards new metal horizons with more “apparitions” and other “hauntings” in stall.

The cover all the spectra of bleakness. - 45%

Corimngul, January 3rd, 2005

Poltergeist never achieved more than a cult status and Behind My Mask, their second album, was perhaps their best. Where Depression, their debut, was more generic, Behind My Mask makes a more ripe impression. Stylistically, they are at their top and they have matured musically. After an intro sounding like croaking frogs the album begins. But it isn’t the kind of thrash attack that many bands succeeded in back in the time. This is just a little too boring; they don’t do much to distance themselves. It has its moments though.

Musical highlights are the vocals by André Greider and Pulver’s guitars. The vocals are of their own sort, and shifting. At times he does these half-weak high-pitched screams and turns out rather bad. At times he does normal thrash vocals, sounding like a cross between Dave Mustaine and Paul Baloff. Fortunately though, he mostly sings his own way. His voice appears to be grey… somehow. On ‘Grey’ it’s easiest to hear it… The guitars are shifting too, both in quality and way to play. Some songs just sound like repetition after repetition after repetition of the same old riff. Then other songs just blow you away with their blazingly fast and awesome guitars. Some songs start good and then turn out bland, long, boring…

Drumming is quite ok, but when playing that fast, interesting rhythms are more important than ever. Overall it’s the same thing. Somehow the bland and boring parts balance the real great parts out. Trying to play a somewhat slower and melodic version of standard thrash, they did never put themselves apart. It’s not a standout album in any direction, not particularly good, not especially bad, not very original – not even generic enough to give them a label. Poltergeist were said to be amazing live, but on album they are way too bleak.