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“Four Tankists, Four Happy Friends…” - 83%

bayern, January 12th, 2018

I had to modify this popular Russian song a bit cause in this case we have four “tankists”, not three… And they have decided to resume the fight on the Eastern front with this tribute to the good old thrash, and prove themselves worthy followers to the legacy of their legendary compatriot, the hard rock/metal pioneer Gunnar Graps (R.I.P.).

To be quite honest, I haven’t been following the Estonian metal scene very closely, a shame I know, and except for the death metal outfits Rattler (ties with the band here) and Misdeed I have problems recalling other names from there immediately… Well, with this new brigade in action things may, and should, change although reading the good old thrash one should bear in mind that this doesn’t mean a complete surrender to the old school canons; the band’s delivery mixes the old with the modern school although it doesn’t quite resemble any other practitioner per se as the overall approach is quite jumpy and not always predictable, a good example of it being the opening “Just Another Union”, a meandering semi-technical piece with a hectic tempo alternation, the abrasive, mechanical guitar sound creating cold, alien atmosphere. “Choose Death” is another pleasant more technical surprise, a nervy shredder which is very close to reaching the lofty standards of masterpieces like Altered Aeon’s “Dispiritism” and Returner’s “The Black Notes”; and “Miserytomb” is a very interesting, openly bizarre at times, combination of Voivod’s “Negatron” and the bleak dystopian landscapes of acts like Zillah and Klast; a creepy mind-scratching proposition that moves away from any established norm so far, the semblance of normality, and arguably conformity, brought back by the more retro-sounding headbanger “The Plastic Age” which is rather the “Classic Age” with the old school vigour reflected in impetuous gallops and a dark Slayer-esque vibe.

Don’t expect two in a row, though, on this diverse roller-coaster as “Suffo6ion” is another piece of minimalistic weirdness with seismic stomping developments and more intriguing semi-technical accumulations, the leads playing a very good role as the melodic mediator. “Waste of Bones” is another nod to the old school served in a more carefree crossover manner, the obligatory outlandish element being the ultra-stylish virtuoso leads the guy simply revelling in his dexterity “spoiling” the festive atmosphere with the textbook-neat Shrapnel-like pirouettes. “Godspear” has no claims at any lustrous ways of execution being a monotonous hypnotic mid-pacer, but “Conveyor Gate” largely makes up for this brief lapse of originality with mind-scratching riff-formulas, twisted melodic tunes, and wayward speedy “excursions” that carry on on the closing “I Know Who You Are!”, another diverse, not very predictable ride with spacey psychedelic additives circling above the picturesque carnival where more energetic twists take turns with mellower pounding strokes, the whole amalgam having this eccentric, otherworldly feel that is not easy to describe with just a few words.

In a way quite similar to the Americans Combat’s “Ruination”, the band use the thrash metal frame to weave their own thing, without obeying any (un)written rules, the final product again difficult to categorize. It comes as one sterile brand of cyber-thrash that passes through several nuances each of which leaving its lasting, memorable trace on it including the warmer classic-prone ones. There’s this rampant stream-of-consciousness-like creative flow at play the guys not willing to put bridles on their imagination regardless of where it may take them. There was also this danger towards the middle when the offbeat connection “threatened” to take the approach into more abstract territories where eclectic outfits like Mandroid of Krypton, Goats, and Droid reside, but once this moment was gone, the modern/classic unorthodox thrash fiesta seldom fluctuates from the (ab)norm.

Still, one never knows how things would turn out on subsequent instalments; the mentioned Combat only flirted which such infinite possibilities without exploring them further. Shall we expect the same from our “tankists” here? Well, tankists usually don’t beat about the bush; they find the target and shoot fast and straight, without any ado. But for the ones here I have the feeling we can’t expect any mercy, humane “killings” from them…