How has thrash survived for over three decades? By being one of the easiest genres of metal to appreciate, that’s how. The diversity of thrash allows for speed, groove, technicality, and ambience to varying degrees, and metalheads around the world know it and love it. And despite the fact that some thrash groups still carry the stigma of their reputations from the ’80s and ’90s, there are few genres that have been able to last as long while still generating new talent on a consistent basis. Today, we get new material from a couple of thrash greats and several thrash-inspired groups, as well as plenty of other great new music! Enjoy!
Testament, Dark Roots of Earth (Nuclear Blast)
After the triumphant comeback album that was 2008’s The Formation of Damnation, Testament has not faded from view – if anything, they’ve worked harder than ever to stay in the public profile. Their efforts have paid off, as anticipation for this new album is very high. In many ways, Dark Roots of Earth is a callback to Testament’s releases from the ’90s, and some comparisons being drawn because of this are inevitable. Both Eric Peterson and Chuck Billy have alluded to this album being much heavier and more intense than The Formation of Damnation, which will undoubtedly have dedicated fans comparing the album to 1999’s The Gathering, which remains one of the heaviest albums in Testament’s discography. As if that weren’t enough, drummer Gene Hoglan filled in for Paul Bostaph during the recording sessions and is now a full-time member of the band again, having previously played on 1997’s Demonic. The album also features songwriting credits for Del James, who has collaborated with the band on almost every band since 1992’s The Ritual, and credits for Steve “Zetro” Souza, the group’s original singer from their days under the name Legacy. You can pick up the deluxe CD/DVD version for a nice collection of covers and an extended version of one album track. But the real prize for some will be on the iTunes deluxe version, which also includes the version of “A Day in the Death” that was recorded with Lamb of God’s Chris Adler on drums.
Nachtmystium, Silencing Machine (Century Media)
The buzz generated by the newest installment in Nachtmystium’s discography has not been quite as universally positive as one might expect, but I chalk that up to people have false hopes and expectations where they shouldn’t. The band had stated when recording this album that it would be a black metal album, insinuating that the progressive elements of Assassins and Addicts (parts 1 and 2 of the Black Meddle series) would not be as prevalent on Silencing Machine. The band has kept their promise, relegating the progressive and abstract influences to a few tracks towards the end while delivering solid black metal on the rest of the album. I fail to see why people would be upset with Blake Judd and Co. for keeping their word. Regardless, though, as long as you’re not one of those people apparently hoping for Nachtmystium to start sounding like Cynic, Silencing Machine should be an enjoyable listen for you.
Tankard, A Girl Called Cerveza (Nuclear Blast)
Long before the newest wave of American thrash bands came out and started creating thrash with a party atmosphere, Tankard was throwing back beers while throwing up horns all over Europe. Another band celebrating their thirty year anniversary in 2012, Tankard has always been consistent in one crucial thing – knowing how to write riffs that make you feel happy to be alive. A Girl Called Cerveza is certain to do just that, as the band will want to impress everyone on the first release of their new deal with Nuclear Blast. My one complaint about this album, though, stems solely from the first thing you get to experience about the album – the cover art. While not quite as foul as the artwork from 2002’s B-Day, this new cover art doesn’t measure up to any of its more immediate predecessors, lacking the humor factor of Thirst, the titillation of The Beauty and the Beer, and the sheer awesomeness of Beast of Bourbon. Still, though, I give Tankard kudos for having the balls to make this into their album artwork.
Dew-Scented, Icarus (Prosthetic)
One of the most underrated metal bands to ever come out of Germany, Dew-Scented plays a solid mix of thrash and death metal, combining the best parts of the German metal scene into one amazing band. Unfortunately, the process leading up to Icarus was a rough one for Dew-Scented, as member after member kept leaving the band for various reasons, until only singer Leif Jensen was left of the previous lineup and the only original member left in the band. However, Jensen brought together a solid group of new musicians and made Icarus happen, which is a relief for fans that wanted more of the excellence that was created on 2010’s Invocation. Now on their ninth full-length album (and also their ninth album whose title starts with the letter I), Dew-Scented has overcome the obstacles and looks poised to be around long enough to at least get to number ten.
Gojira, The Flesh Alive (Mascot)
With all the buzz about the release of L’Enfant Sauvage a month ago, no one seems to have noticed that the group is putting out a new DVD today. The likelihood is that the band wants to promote new music more than an album that’s four years old already, and also that Mascot Label Group doesn’t quite have the same public following or press command that a label like Roadrunner does. Regardless, though, if you ever wanted to know more about the writing process for 2008’s The Way of All Flesh, this DVD is worth picking up for the documentary alone. I remain skeptical about the live portion of the release, though, after reading what our MetalSucks comrades had to say about it. However, there is a CD of the live material included in the release, so you can experience it that way too, making this worthwhile overall. HD fans are lucky enough to also get a Blu-ray release of this title, as well.
Also being released this week:
High on Fire, The Art of Self Defense Reissue (Southern Lord)
King of Asgard, …To North (Metal Blade)
A Bullet for Pretty Boy, Symbiosis (Artery/Razor & Tie)
The Company Band, Pros & Cons (Weathermaker)
Hour of 13, 333 (Earache)
Crucified Barbara, The Midnight Chase (Nuclear Blast)
Gaza, No Absolutes in Human Suffering (Black Market)
Attika 7, Blood of My Enemies (Rocket Science)
Charm City Devils, Sins (eOne)
Devilish Impressions, Simulacra (Lifeforce)
Afgrund, The Age of Dumb (Willowtip)
Evoken, Atra Mors (Profound Lore)
The Locust, Molecular Genetics from the Gold Standard Labs (ANTI)
Drone, For Torch and Crown (Metalville)
Last Witness, Mourning After (Holy Roar)
Horse Latitudes, Awakening (12th Street)
Judgement Day, Polar Shift (Minus Head)
Gentlemans Pistols, Gentlemans Pistols (Metal Blade)
Next Week: Led by one of the figureheads of late ’90s shock rock and a hard rock band that had its best years during the last decade, next week is somewhat light on purely metal releases. Still, though, there is plenty of quality material to be had, so be sure to swing through next time!