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The Lost Soundtrack to Tobe Hooper’s Blockbuster - 81%

bayern, January 9th, 2020

… or rather Steven Spielberg’s as I keep reading and hearing that it was him that was largely responsible for the completion of the “Poltergeist” feature that came out a year before this album’s release. Well, in the case here we know very well who’s behind the creation of these close to 50-min of retro power/speed/thrashiness although the singer Andre Grieder was nearly snatched by Sodom after having already lent his admirable skills to the Destruction camp a few years prior…

kidding here, the spell with Destruction was just a momentary one the man standing firm next to his comrades this time, with no intentions on getting involved with other German fractions. And not only but here he unleashes his talents to the fullest as the more flexible power/speed/thrashy conglomerate cooked gives him more opportunities to display his vocal dexterity. The precise technical shredding from the preceding opus isn’t the focus here, though, and for some this would clearly be a pullback; well, at least for me who took quite some time with this effort before warming up to its more diverse layout.

The melody has also been increased and right from the get-go ("Only You Remain") the listener will be quite surprised to hear some atmospheric power metal as an inauguration gesture. Grieder shines on the chorus and elsewhere, but the initial astonishment would hardly be washed away, even after the passing of the short blitzkrieger “Empty Inside”. Bigger ambition comes forward before long the latter nicely exemplified by the elaborate “Haunted House/Nothing Lasts Forever” compendium where it’s again Grieder who leads the show, his poignant antics a true highlight all over. Other more urgent thrashing skirmishes (“Just Doin' My Job”, “Living for the Games”) come served later, but not exceedingly many signs of rebellion roam around, truth be told, with the haunting acoustic ballad “Never Again” and the nod to the US power metal heritage “Darken My Mind” easily mortifying the drama whenever it escalates towards more aggressive parametres.

One immediate plus that has to be added to the band’s repertoire is that they never repeated themselves on any of their endeavours, including the first stint they had under the name Carrion: this first spell was direct immediate bash; then they polished and refined their approach on the Poltergeist debut without losing much of the intensity; then they embraced the technicality whole-heartedly with “Behind My Mask”, a tendency possibly brought by Grieder from his short spell with Destruction; and they introduced progressive and power metal to widen their appeal on the album reviewed here, a cause greatly helped by Grieder’s versatile vocal performance. Even their comeback effort from 2016 (“Back to Haunt”) doesn’t sound like a copy of any of those opting for a further-reaching conglomerate of all the stylistic trajectories the band have been following earlier…

the album here is the most varied opus produced by the band so far, placing them squarely in this go-between group of German practitioners (Secrecy, Brainamputated, Salvation, early Squealer, etc.) who stood sandwiched between the technical/progressive and the speed/power metal movement over there. The thing is that there was no scene per se in the Poltergeists’ homeland anymore: Celtic Frost were already done, Coroner and Messiah were modernizing their sound almost beyond recognition, and Drifter were settling for the release of demo material only… our friendly apparitions saw no reason why they should carry on with their retro metal tactics, and folded shortly after this album came out. They’re back to haunt, though, and from what they’ve cooked on this fourth charm I can clearly see loads of happy, not so much scared, faces all over… cause first and foremost everyone’s main agenda is to keep our favourite thrash alive, right?

Right.