Spanish thrash metal band Aggression this year releases their second full length album, Viocracy, 3 years after the well-received MoshPirit. With the large number of bands playing old-school thrash metal hailing from Europe and America, Aggression certainly stands out from the rest, not only through their land of origin but also through their habit of fusing separate words into one on their album titles, giving the albums a certain depth to them.
Viocracy seems to imply the violence that is ironically present in a democracy, and the album opens with a sample of a speech by George W. Bush to introduce listeners to the theme that the album would be based on from here. And with little warning, the album begins and instantly the listener knows that Viocracy will not be your everyday thrash metal that simply emulate pioneers of the genre. The music on Viocracy, as one would soon come to realise, is for the most part extremely complex and filled with much technical moments that the band somehow manages to execute easily. Right from False Flags, the album is filled with odd time signatures and disjointed-sounding tempos that make headbanging to the album a pain in the ass, yet somehow manages to retain the attraction towards the listener with some extremely melodic moments that are embedded among all that confusion, and admittedly, on the first few listens to the album, this could get some getting used to.
The main issue that most people would have is probably vocalist Pol's unique style, which could put some listeners off easily. While most thrash metal vocalists tend to utilise the more conventional vocal delivery style of barking or growling, Pol for the most part makes use of melodic singing, punctuated by small moments of what sounds like growls/howls, and though this could at times come across as slightly nu-metallish, it does provide a fresh sound to the band. Dehumanized even sees him dragging out the lyrics, bringing in some slight James Hetfield resemblance there. On top of the delivery method, Pol also has a unique vocal quality which makes this all the more interesting. The progressive structures and technicality of the songs on Viocracy also allow the band to display not only their capacities as musicians, but also their tightness as a unit, with guitars, bass and drums all managing to all keep in sync despite the extremely complex structures that some songs have. The progressive metal influence that the band has in their music is perhaps best proven with the included cover of Rush's classic instrumental YYZ, with their heavy/thrash metal take of the music giving the song a nice, thick groove and instantly converting it into a headbanger/mosher. Furthermore, Victims of Bias even includes a somewhat jazzy section after an aggressive beginning before going into a more bluesy mood complete with wah-pedalled clean lead guitars.
That said though, there are more straightforward thrash metal moments that remind listeners of good old school thrash metal gems like Kreator, such as on the title track Viocracy and Human Nature, and of course the cliched (but good) use of background shouts for most of the tracks. The end of MK Ultra personally gave me a pleasasnt surprise, with the included sound sample of the 1976 film, Network, reminding me of the other excellent death/thrash band that coincidentally used the same sample, India's Devoid. This of course, manages to fit nicely into the overarching concept of the album of hypocrisy and politics. It is precisely the courage that the band has in incorporating elements from many different musical genres (particularly on Victims of Bias) that makes Viocracy such an outstanding and enjoyable album.
Originally written for http://www.heavymetaltribune.com/