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In the Name of Progress(ive Thrash) - 85%

hardalbumreview, December 19th, 2018

Many years after their War and Pain debut in 1984, these Canadian old timers still have an ace up their sleeves to take you all by surprise. They are back with more thrash-prog (or prog-thrash) and this time they just hit home. Their fourteenth studio album is an example for fellow thrashers of the ‘80s and a lesson for the newbies.
Like many of their previous releases (Nothingface 1989, The Outer Limits 1993, Killing Technology 1986 or Dimension Hatröss 1988) they have preserved a techy, psi-fi touch, both modally and content-wise, containing similar themes and motifs, strolling within the same realm and painting an analogous auditory picture. Moreover, this offering can be regarded as the continuation, or I would rather say escalation, of their previous work, Target Earth (2013).

The album, head to toe, has a chiefly cynical attitude towards its mostly apocalyptic and futuristic motifs. It begins with Obsolete Beings, a reproval of the ensnarement of our modern life by the social media and commodification of human lives. This malicious message is well transferred through the use of sinister-sounding guitars (particularly the solo section) and the sound effects of factories and production lines in the background of the ending of this song.

More of these atmospheric sounds, which help the listener to fully grasp the ambience that the musicians and the lyricist(s) have strived to convey in musical notes and words, can be found here and there on various tracks – from the ominous cinematic expressions on Orb Confusion, to a 2001-a-space-odessey-esque ending drums on The End of Dormancy, from the “spacey” sound effect of Spherical Perspective to the dark samples used on “Always Moving”; and add to this the string quartet on Iconspiracy, as an instance.

All this playing around with other auditory tools and samples falls way behind the musicianship and jaw-dropping skills on the side of the ones behind instruments. Chewy on guitars and Away on drums do a superb job and deliver the heavy, technical (but not heavily technical) experience so the maximum pleasure effect. But what stand atop is the damn solid, meaty bass poundings of Dominique “Rocky” Laroche, the new name in the band. He has a hell of an introduction, a true superhero landing, if I may borrow a term from the silver screen. It was a wise decision of the band members and the producer of course to allow bass to be heard on almost all the songs and not to cover it under layers upon layers of other instruments. To me, this decision and its outcome was the highlight of the album.

There is one track, however, that sums up the whole album in a 12-minute-and-24-second nut-shell. This closure (Sonic Mycelium) puts together bits and pieces of other songs in an innovative and novel fashion and brings to the surface everything that you might have passed unnoticed throughout the album.

Overall, if you think the old-timers have had it enough and you have given up hope on the stars of the past, you sure have missed this high-ranker of 2018. The best person to have described this offering might be the drummer, Michel “Away” Langevin, who said the music of this album to be “a futuristic prog thrash metal trek”. Bullseye!

Rating:
Lyrics: 8.0
Artwork: 9.0
Musicianship: 9.0
Vocals: 8.0
Overall: 8.5