CD Review: “Years Of Aggression” by Suicidal Angels

Greek thrashers Suicidal Angels aim to live up to the title of its seventh release, Years Of Aggression. The whiff of nostalgia is present throughout the album, with Eighties era guitar riffs meshed with stellar leads compliments of guitarist Gus Drax. Unfortunately, the album falls a bit flat as the aggression is somewhat repressed. Album opener “Endless War” commences with a swarming guitar riff that transitions in to a tight galloping riff. Front man and guitarist Nick Melissourgos provides sharp, raspy vocals that fit the gripping nature of the track. However, it is Drax’s blistering, neo-classical solo that is the highlight on this track. A strong opening, however, it leaves one with the impression that the band could play faster and heavier. This feeling is slightly diminished on “Born Of Hate” with its Swedish death metal vibe. The guitar work is superb as Melissourgos and Drax trade off swift guitar lines, but this track is still marred by a lack of pushing the envelope. The title track is dynamic and drummer Orpheas Tzortzopoulos pounds his kit like a madman. The quartet hit the nail on the head at the album’s halfway point on “D.I.V.A.” which is the shortest track on the album. The ripping riffs are supported by relentless yet technical drumming. It is just a shame that Suicidal finally finds its aggression when the album is halfway over. The main riff on “Order Of Death” hits like a mallet to the gut which is only exacerbated by the walloping drum beats. Drax unleashes a sweeping guitar lead that adds to the madness. “The Roof Of Rats” is pure, primal thrash with a encircling riff that will incite a mosh pit. The song’s midsection slows down for a breather before the band begins its second assault on this track. Album closer “The Sacred Dance With Chaos” begins with a disturbing clean guitar passage before the electric guitars take over, maintaining the same dissonant riff. The dark groove invokes a dance macabre that stops during the midsection for a somber acoustic lead. “Sacred Dance” ends Aggression on a sinister high note, and a much needed one at that.

The second half of Years Of Aggression is much superior to the first half. The songs are heavier, diverse and the band rips it up while taking risks. The same cannot be said for the first half as it is somewhat contrived and Suicidal dial it in at times. One knows the band is capable of playing high quality thrash and it is frustrating when the guys plays it safe. There is nothing wrong with paying homage to the old school, provided that you do it right. We see this on tracks like “The Roof Of Rats” with its maniacal riffing as the band moves full speed ahead.

Years of Aggression is saved by its second half. Suicidal Angels now has seven records under its belt so folks expect quality. Sure, every band slips up due to wanting to branch out with its music. However, when a band titles its record Years Of Aggression, one expects to hear fast paced, pummeling, take no prisoners thrash metal. This is especially true of a band that formed 18 years ago and has made a mark in the metal world. Now is not the time for the band to rest on its laurels. Metal heads still and will always need music to get out our aggression.

Check out the band’s official website: https://www.suicidalangels.net/

CD review: “Trapped In Chaos” by Dust Bolt

Dust Bolt expands its horizons on the band’s fourth album, Trapped In Chaos. There is greater depth to the songs, while the band retains its signature thrash sound.

Album opener “The Fourth” transitions between aggressive, blistering drums spliced with slower, grooving riffs. Frontman and guitarist Lenny Bruce’s vocals are a bit tepid, however it does not take away from the track.

“Dead Inside” the initial single commences with a crushing, plodding riffs and machine like drums, before speeding up after the first minute of the song. Guitarists Bruce and Flo Dehn play some colossal riffs while drummer Nico Rayman maintains a heavy groove with some impressive double bass.

A warped psychedelic riff opens “Rhythm To The Madness” before the band accelerates in to thrash mode. The track’s midsection slams like a caged animal before the tempo speeds up at the song’s conclusion. The tracks “Shed My Skin” and “Killing Time” are straight up thrash numbers with a pinch of hardcore that get the head banding. The latter has a couple of ripping guitar leads that reaffirm this band are not a one trick pony.

“Another Day In Hell” is the third single off Trapped and has a dark atmosphere punctuated with haunting clean guitars and a slow beat. This is certain to become a fan favorite and shows the band’s growth as songwriters. Album closer “Who I Am” ends things on an aggressive note with a sped up galloping riff that transitions to a slower bottom heavy groove that fades in to noise.

Trapped In Chaos is Dust Bolt’s experimental record, which will draw detractors because the band plays softer, slower tracks. There are some thrashing tracks on here, but the slower, acoustic parts provide depth the songs and a contrast to the faster songs. This is expected as the band does not want to release the same record over and again. However, there is the concern that Dust Bolt would all but abandon its thrash roots in favor of short, mainstream songs. Fortunately the band does not do that here. The vocals are a bit shaky and at times the band seems a little reluctant to move too far. However, this record may be the turning point for Dust Bolt as it melds its sound in to something more cohesive. Slayer did it with Seasons In The Abyss as it combined the best elements of South Of Heaven and Reign in Blood. It seems Dust Bolt wants to do the same thing.

Trapped In Chaos is a nice dose of thrash metal to ring in 2019. It is a mix of old and new that should satisfy most of the band’s fans. This is not the band’s Turbo album, but some fans may be let down by the softer tracks on the album. Still, bands progress and Dust Bolt want to add more panache to its music. This is good, or else the band would be trapped.

Check out the Dust Bolt’s official website for more information.

CD Review: “Slaves Of The Shadow Realm” by Legion Of The Damned

Dutch metal quartet Legion Of The Damned have unleashed its unholy seventh record, Slaves Of The Shadow Realm.

Album opener “The Widow’s Breed” is a blistering track with chainsaw guitar slicing through thrashing drum beats. The lyrical imagery of African witchcraft is especially interesting and a wonderful departure of the conventional satanic/anti-Christian themes.

“Nocturnal Commando” continues with the African lyrical content the previous track as a tribute to Ogun, the God of Iron in the Yoruba religion. Guitarist Twan van Geel’s unrelenting riffs easily keep pace with Erik Fleuren’s ferocious drumming.

Things briefly slow down on the “Charnel Confession” which maintains an uneasy rhythm throughout the song’s duration. There are numerous guitar fills that complement “Confession’s” fierty atmosphere.

“Slaves Of The Southern Cross” is a demonic grooving tune as the band plays in the pocket before speeding things up during the midsection. The chopping guitar riffs and double bass drums conclude the track in hellish fashion.

“Warhounds of Hades”commences with a colossal drum pattern before descending in to a crushing thrash number. Geel’s aggressive double picking in the main riff drives this track, and the midsection will arouse a mosh pit.

“Priest Hunt” features a haunting symphonic sample that segues in to a galloping pattern and a meat hook guitar riff. A contrast from the thrash fused black metal on prior tracks, yet it still fits on Shadow Realm.

Album closer “Dark Coronation” is the longest track on the record at a shade under six minutes. There is a hardcore punk influence on this track that elides with some complex guitar riffs making it a killer album closer.

Shadow Realm is a collision of black, death, thrash metal and punk but Legion pulls it off for most of the record. Some songs are a bit too long, causing the record to drag. Luckily, Legion’s musical prowess compensates for the album’s few low moments. The production is on point, especially on tracks like “Priest Hunt” with the extra scoop on the guitars. The band also experiments with symphonic samples and a melancholy piano intro “Slaves Of The Demonic Mind.” There are a few good surprises on this record.

Legion Of The Damned bring the goods on Slaves Of The Shadow Realm. Fans of Goatwhore and fellow Dutch metal band God Dethroned will appreciate the band’s melding of metal subgenres. However, this album falls slightly short on some tracks. Still, it is a very good album to lead us in to 2019. The dark gods will appreciate this offering.

Check out the band’s official website:

http://www.legionofthedamned.net/