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Unshaken Pride and Unwavering Prejudice - 95%

bayern, March 27th, 2017

The Belgian metal scene started really strong in the early-80’s with the legends Acid who were not only one of the first female-fronted metal acts, but were also the founders of the speed/thrash metal movement. Their significance for the future establishment of the movement, however, was somehow diminished as they had no immediate followers in their homeland, and quantity-wise the small country has never been the most abundant supplier of metal outfits, unlike their neighbours Holland. We move to the technical side of the genre now where we have the great Target, one of the progressive thrash luminaries of the late-80’s, and the technical thrash/death metal formation Chemical Breath, creators of another mighty double (a band releasing two strong albums in quick succession before disappearing or splitting up) in the early/mid-90’s.

Prejudice belong to this more demanding niche which never grew very big in their homeland although the more initiated should also remember Exoto, another prime technical thrash/death metal horde, also double holders. The band under scrutiny here actually started around the same time, the mid-90’s that is, with a string of demos which eventually led to the debut “Broken Promises”, an excellent technical thrash/death blend which was holding onto the classic canons by achieving a nice balance between the two sides.

Three years later the guys are here again, and the album reviewed here is a most shining illustration of their consummate skills. “New Breed” is a dazzling short instrumental shredder which within 1.5-min will give you the shortcut to the history of technical death metal with its supreme hectic overlapping rhythms. The busy-ness remains for “Act of Despair” which carries on in an uncompromising fashion also showing that thrash won’t have too much room for development here as the band have embraced the death metal idea much tighter. The technicality acquires not very easy to swallow parametres on the labyrinthine “Deformity”, a masterpiece of constantly shifting time and tempo changes ala Atheist’s “Unquestionable Presence”. “Dictated Lives” slows down, but the complexity remains the guys moshing in a more laid-back mid-tempo. “Embrace” “embraces” the faster dimensions again, and turns into a vortex of amorphous progressive build-ups and creepy technical shreds.

“Betrayed” begins with brutal blast-beating strokes which later turn into a maze of intricate rifforamas with some of the most outstanding technical riffage ever released during the 90’s; expect a few enchanting melodic tunes as well on top of the infernal shredding. “In-Vitro” marches onward in a consistent mid-pace, but that won’t be the tendency till the end obviously as finally some thrash can be heard the band enhancing it with abrupt spastic technicality in the best tradition of Coroner’s “Mental Vortex”. “Shadowed Thoughts” unleashes the leads to lead the show, but watch out for some of the most tightly knotted riff “salads” this side of Necrophagist and Martyr, not very easy to decipher passages which again come accompanied by great melodic implements. “Vicious Conduct” has an elegiac doomy intro, but the super-elaborate arrangements commence before long the band so busy in weaving these rifftastic riddles that there’s hardly a speedy section to be encountered. “Nuclear Malediction” is the final virtuoso display of metal mastery the guys even letting a superb thrashy galloping cut slip through, but the death metal “police” holds its grip on the situation later although the faster-paced dashes in the second half are vintage thrash again, the show ultimately stolen by the enchanting Oriental melodies that the band provide as a finale.

Mesmerizing music as a whole the guys confidently keeping the flag of old school death metal raised high by embellishing it with some of the finest technical décor the genre has ever received from Belgium, and from Europe in general. Whatever remnants of thrash were still “roaming” around here were irrevocably gone on the sequel “Dominion of Chaos” three years later, another technical/progressive death metal masterpiece, a ball of hyper-intricate Cryptopsy-esque fury contained within 26-min, a much more brutal and speedier affair. A 5-year hiatus followed before “Megalomaniac Infest” was unleashed upon the world; this was a much less technical opus with a dry sterile guitar sound trying to incorporate the 90’s less melodic tools into the booming resurrection wave by also introducing slam into the band’s repertoire. The Death cover of “Lack of Comprehension” was the most stylish occurrence on it the rest lacking the depth and the technical exuberance of earlier recordings.

Things don’t look too bad on the Belgian death metal horizon in the new millennium, with acts like Catarrhal, Dehuman, Leptotrichia, Pestifer, Deathbringer, Serial Butcher disturbing the peace. Prejudice were one the pioneers back in the dark ages, and their importance for the thriving at present movement is undeniable. However, they really need to sit down and think it over since there’s quite a healthy competition at present, and it’s vital for a modern practitioner to fulfil all the promises once made… Breaking just one of them would lead them out of the lists of favourite acts be it lists made by regular metal maniacs, or ones assembled by famous tennis stars.