Technical Thrash Metal

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CORONER No More Color Album Cover No More Color
CORONER
4.38 | 44 ratings
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VOIVOD Dimension Hatröss Album Cover Dimension Hatröss
VOIVOD
4.34 | 52 ratings
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VEKTOR Terminal Redux Album Cover Terminal Redux
VEKTOR
4.31 | 29 ratings
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MEKONG DELTA Dances of Death (And Other Walking Shadows) Album Cover Dances of Death (And Other Walking Shadows)
MEKONG DELTA
4.33 | 12 ratings
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VEKTOR Outer Isolation Album Cover Outer Isolation
VEKTOR
4.18 | 42 ratings
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CRYPTOSIS Bionic Swarm Album Cover Bionic Swarm
CRYPTOSIS
4.37 | 10 ratings
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VOIVOD Killing Technology Album Cover Killing Technology
VOIVOD
4.17 | 46 ratings
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MADROST The Essence of Time Matches No Flesh Album Cover The Essence of Time Matches No Flesh
MADROST
4.38 | 8 ratings
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WATCHTOWER Control And Resistance Album Cover Control And Resistance
WATCHTOWER
4.18 | 30 ratings
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CORONER Mental Vortex Album Cover Mental Vortex
CORONER
4.15 | 36 ratings
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VEKTOR Black Future Album Cover Black Future
VEKTOR
4.08 | 46 ratings
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MEKONG DELTA Lurking Fear Album Cover Lurking Fear
MEKONG DELTA
4.25 | 8 ratings
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Lower Form Resistance
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DISSIMULATOR
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technical thrash metal Music Reviews

BLIND ILLUSION 2018

EP · 2019 · Technical Thrash Metal
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UMUR
"2018" is an EP release by US, San Francisco based thrash metal/hard rock/heavy metal act Blind Illusion. The EP was indpendently released in February 2019. It´s the follow-up release to Blind Illusion´s 2010 comeback album "Demon Master". "Demon Master" was the band´s first release in 22 years as they disbanded in 1992 after releasing their debut full-length studio album "The Sane Asylum" (from 1988).

"Demon Master" wasn´t a thrash metal comeback album though and instead features a bluesy hard rock/heavy metal style, but in 2013 lead vocalist/guitarist Marc Biedermann met other like minded musicians from the 80s thrash metal scene who convinced him to return to his thrash/heavy metal roots, and "2018" is therefore a much more thrash/heavy metal oriented release than "Demon Master" is.

It´s still not full-on aggressive thrash metal...actually far from it although Blind Illusion have re-recorded both "Metamorphosis of a Monster" and "Vengeance Is Mine", which both appeared on "The Sane Asylum". So stylistically this is an eclectic blend of hard rock, blues rock, heavy metal, and thrash metal. It´s a pretty adventurous EP and the overall sound is relatively unconventional. To my ears it works rather well though and as the sound production is decent too, this is a good quality EP release from Blind Illusion, fully showing how diverse they are in terms of their songwriting and performances. A 3 - 3.5 star (65%) rating is warranted.

BLIND ILLUSION The Sane Asylum

Album · 1988 · Technical Thrash Metal
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UMUR
"The Sane Asylum" is the debut full-length studio album by US, San Francisco based thrash metal act Blind Illusion. The album was released through Combat Records in 1988. Blind Illusion was formed in 1979 and although it took until 1988 before the band were able to release their debut full-length studio album, they are widely recognised as an important and influential San Francisco thrash metal act. Blind Illusion released no less than six demo tapes in the years 1981-1986, the last one being "Slow Death" from 1986 (actually their second 1986 demo). "Slow Death" finally got them signed to Combat Records for the release of "The Sane Asylum".

Blind Illusion went through several lineup changes in their career, but the lineup who recorded "The Sane Asylum" are Marc Biederman (guitars/vocals), Les Claypool (bass), Larry Lalonde (guitars), and Mike Miner (drums). It´s a well known "secret" that Kirk Hammett of Metallica produced "The Sane Asylum", although he isn´t credited on the album (who knows...maybe he was afraid of how James and Lars would react to him working outside Metallica). Hammett is of course not the only interesting name mentioned above as Lalonde came from a stint with Possessed where he played on the legendary 1985 album "Seven Churches" and on the other Possessed releases until that band split-up on 1987. Both he and bassist Les Claypool would find considerable commercial and artistic success in the 90s with alternative rock/metal act Primus.

Stylistically the material on "The Sane Asylum" is thrash metal but with strong ties to traditional heavy metal. So this has more in common with the heavy/speed metal tinged and often melodic inclined material of Megadeth than it has to the brutality and aggression of the contemoporary material by artists like Dark Angel and Slayer. It´s obvious that Blind Illusion are a gifted bunch of guys. The vocals aren´t that exciting (being pretty standard shouting/snarling thrash metal vocals), but these guys can play and there are some pretty tight and adventurous sections on the album (for the latter take a listen to "Kamakazi") and some well played lead guitar work. Sometimes it even borders technical thrash metal because of the many rhythm changes and the complexity of some of the riffs (just take a listen to "Death Noise" for proof of that), but then again Blind Illusion aren´t exactly Watchtower.

Less will do though and as "The Sane Asylum" also features a (for the time) well sounding production, which suits the material well, it´s a good quality debut album from Blind Illusion. I wouldn´t call it something way out of the ordinary for the genre, but it´s certainly entertaining while it plays. 3 - 3.5 star (65%) rating is warranted.

SADUS The Shadow Inside

Album · 2023 · Technical Thrash Metal
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UMUR
"The Shadow Inside" is the sixth full-length studio album by US, California based thrash metal act Sadus. The album was released through Nuclear Blast in November 2023. It´s the successor to "Out for Blood" from 2006 and there´s been a significant lineup change since the predecessor as bassist and founding member Steve DiGiorgio opted not to reunite with drummer Jon Allen and lead vocalist/guitarist Darren Travis for the recording of "The Shadow Inside", and as a consequence the latter has recorded the bass parts on the album.

Sadus were a pretty prolific act on the brutal and technical thrash metal scene of the late 80s/early 90s but since they released "Elements of Anger" in 1997 only two studio albums (including this one) have come out of their camp and it´s hard not to think of them as a hobby project these days. Even DiGiorgio who always fought hard for the survival of the band has now jumped ship (probably as a consequence of his commitments to his day job in Testament). Hobby projects don´t have to be sloppy projects though, and although Sadus haven´t exactly toured the world lately or made much of a fuzz about themselves, they still have a legacy and a fanbase who are excited that a new album has arrived.

Stylistically this is the core aggressive thrash metal sound of Sadus, but there are a few changes which need to be mentioned. First of all it´s of course noticeable that DiGiorgio isn´t performing on "The Shadow Inside". His unique and dominant bass playing has always been a key element of Sadus sound, and it´s a bit odd to hear a Sadus album without it. Travis has opted for a more normal way of playing bass and while there´s nothing wrong with the bass parts, they aren´t as unique as before or add anything special to the soundscape. Another feature which is different from earlier releases is the drum tone. Allen always had a natural organic tone but on "The Shadow Inside" the drum tone is more cold and sterile sounding.

When you adjust to those changes the material on "The Shadow Inside" is still unmistakably the sound of Sadus, with sharp, aggressive, heavy thrash metal riffs and rhythms, occasionally faster-paced parts, and Travis sandpaper raw snarling vocals in front. The frenetic high-speed playing of the first couple of releases were already lessened on the mid-90s albums, so it´s not surprising that the pace on "The Shadow Inside" is predominantly mid-tempo and heavy, but Sadus still pack a punch and deliver some crushingly heavy tunes.

There´s no revolution of sound or style on "The Shadow Inside", and of course most listeners will miss DiGiorgio´s busy fretless bass playing, but when all is said and done this is still a good quality release and it´s great to know that Sadus still exist. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

DISSIMULATOR Lower Form Resistance

Album · 2024 · Technical Thrash Metal
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siLLy puPPy
While technical death metal has swept across the metal universe and practically dominated it in the 21st century, technical thrash metal has been primarily been kept in the past with bands like Voivod, Coroner and Sadus keeping the style relevant. Sure there has been the occasional band like Vektor and Demoniac that came from nowhere and gave the genre a modern makeover but overall the world of death metal has more than eclipsed the thrash output since the 90s. However that very well may be changing as many tech death bands are feeling like they’re swimming in a very crowded fishbowl. Enter the Montreal based DISSUMULATOR.

While a seemingly new band that also came from nowhere, this power trio is actually a seasoned collection of extreme metal veterans who have been haunting Quebec’s extreme metal scene for a very long time now. The band consists of bassist Antoine Daigneault of the death metal bands Chthe’ilist, Punished, Serocs and the funeral doom outfit Atramentus, percussionist Philippe Boucher most famously of Beyond Creation but also from First Fragment, Incandescence, Vengeful and Chthe’ilist as well as guitarist / vocalist Claude Leduc who was also in both Atramentus and Chthe’ilist as well as Sutrah.

Quite the resume for a mere trio and all that experience comes to play on the band’s debut LOWER FORM RESISTANCE which takes all that tech death metal experience and adapts it all into the world of thrash metal. The results are nothing less than spectacular. Taking on the basic form of a traditional thrash metal album complete with the arpeggiated clean twin guitar harmonic parts to serve as palette cleansers, the band also employs all those tech thrash styles that allowed bands like Anacrusis, Mekong Delta and Hellwitch the ticket to sprucing up the traditional thrash metal techniques that were all the rage in the late 80s and early 90s.

And while a blurry gray area between the world’s of death metal and thrash metal are certainly nothing new, DISSIMULATOR creates something akin to deathened thrash metal, that being a hybrid of thrash musically speaking only accompanied by death metal growls as well as some of the technical workouts associated with death metal. With the blitzkrieg attack deliveries of early Sadus, the technical precision of modern tech thrash perfection as heard from Vektor and a propensity creative infusions that make thrash sound fresh again, DISSUMLATOR has made thrash metal relevant again just when you thought it had completely fizzled out as with nothing more than retro bands keeping the candle burning. Replete with sci-fi themes, DISSIMULATOR captures the spirit of classic Voivod and set to a modernized technical explosiveness like few others have captured in recent years.

While flawlessly capturing the spirit of classic thrash metal, DISSIMULATOR delivers attacks of brutal precision rarely heard in thrash metal of any era with a special nod to drummer Philippe Boucher’s advanced technical workouts that made Beyond Creation one of the most memorable proggy tech death metal bands of the last decade. Infused with passion and creativity, LOWER FORM RESISTANCE is one of the best thrash metal releases i’ve heard in some time and offers everything i love about the genre. Unapologetically brash and unafraid to explore new dynamics, DISSIMULATOR is yet another successful feather in these fine musicians’ caps. Perhaps not quite to the level of the trilogy of Vektor albums of the last decade mostly due to the rather monotonous vocal style, LOWER FORM RESISTANCE nevertheless excels on full musical pistons and is an outstanding modern thrash metal release.

DEATHROW Life Beyond

Album · 1992 · Technical Thrash Metal
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UMUR
"Life Beyond" is the 4th full-length studio album by German thrash metal act Deathrow. The album was released through West Virginia Records in 1992. It´s the successor to "Deception Ignored" from 1988 and features the same four-piece lineup who recorded the predecessor. "Deception Ignored (1988)" is often mentioned among the seminal technical thrash metal releases from the 80s, and to fans of technical thrash metal frenzy it is indeed a mandatory listen. Four years down the line and in the midst of great changes in the musical climate (thrash was in a heavy decline in popularity in 1992), it was always going to be interesting to hear how Deathrow would follow up a release which had the impact that "Deception Ignored (1988)" did (and still has).

In some ways "Life Beyond" continues the technical thrash metal style of the predecessor but in other ways it´s a slightly less technical and less challenging release. Some of the riffs and rhythms are more straight forward German thrash metal riffs, but at the end of the day "Life Beyond" still qualifies to the tagged a technical thrash metal release. The vocals by Milo are predominantly shouted, raw, and staccato delivered, but he occasionally (very rarely actually) adds melodic singing to the tracks. It´s obvious he isn´t an educated singer, and he sometimes sounds a little strained and even a little out of breath. With a little vocal training I´m sure the results would have been a more satisfying listen, because as it is, the vocals are definitely the weak link of the music.

The tracks are relatively challenging in structure and technically complex, and there are some pretty interesting musical ideas on the album. Overall the songs aren´t memorable enough though and the monotone powerless vocals definitely doesn´t help on that impression. "Life Beyond" is well produced and other than the vocals the album features high level musicianship on all posts. I´m not sure I find the stiff drumming that great, but there´s nothing wrong with the technical level of playing. Drummer Markus Hahn just doesn´t have a groove and the transitions and changes in the music don´t flow and often become a little abrupt and awkward. Upon conclusion "Life Beyond" is quality wise a pretty standard German thrash metal album with an added technical edge, and those who looked forward to listening to "Deception Ignored (1988)" number 2 will probably be disappointed. A 3 - 3.5 star (65%) rating is warranted.

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