Technical Thrash Metal

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VEKTOR Terminal Redux Album Cover Terminal Redux
VEKTOR
4.37 | 18 ratings
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VOIVOD Dimension Hatröss Album Cover Dimension Hatröss
VOIVOD
4.24 | 35 ratings
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MADROST The Essence of Time Matches No Flesh Album Cover The Essence of Time Matches No Flesh
MADROST
4.41 | 7 ratings
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CORONER No More Color Album Cover No More Color
CORONER
4.23 | 28 ratings
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VEKTOR Outer Isolation Album Cover Outer Isolation
VEKTOR
4.20 | 32 ratings
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WATCHTOWER Control And Resistance Album Cover Control And Resistance
WATCHTOWER
4.17 | 23 ratings
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VOIVOD Killing Technology Album Cover Killing Technology
VOIVOD
4.14 | 28 ratings
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MEKONG DELTA In a Mirror Darkly Album Cover In a Mirror Darkly
MEKONG DELTA
4.25 | 7 ratings
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SADUS A Vision of Misery Album Cover A Vision of Misery
SADUS
4.14 | 7 ratings
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VEKTOR Black Future Album Cover Black Future
VEKTOR
4.05 | 35 ratings
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CORONER Mental Vortex Album Cover Mental Vortex
CORONER
4.03 | 24 ratings
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REVOCATION Deathless Album Cover Deathless
REVOCATION
4.08 | 7 ratings
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technical thrash metal Music Reviews

VEXOVOID Call Of The Starforger

Album · 2017 · Technical Thrash Metal
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siLLy puPPy
Given the fact that Vektor has won the increasingly finicky metal community over so unanimously means serious business considering metal bands are a dime a dozen this far into the 21st century where there are far more copycats than fertile imaginative product. It has occurred to me that surely there must be some band out there somewhere who would jump on the blackened thrash bandwagon in similar vein to what the Arizona tech thrash band has achieved so gracefully. Well it turns out that there is indeed an assembly line in the works out there. In this case coming from the fertile wine growing regions of Sienna, Italy, the tech thrash band VEXOVOID who despite copping their name from a Portal album (thus showing their allegiance in many forms to the tech thrash world) sound like a dead ringer for Vektor in almost every way right down to the sci-fi based themes and eerie space album cover artwork.

The band released only one EP “Heralds Of The Stars” in 2014 but recently released their first full length album CALL OF THE STARFORGER three years later. When i say this band sounds like Vektor, i’m not kidding in the least. This band has a PHD in Vektor-ology and has learned how to mimic every little nuance that the first V-band has developed over the years right down to Danny Brunelli’s imitation blood curdling vocal screams that nails David DiSanto’s signature style. Similarly the music is practically identical in compositional form and delivery. The caustic blackened tones delivered in a stampeding thrash gallop all point to Arizona’s top dogs is rather uncanny as VEXOVOID has all the chops to pull off all these technical antics off with ease. CALL OF THE STARFORGER not only incorporates all of the aggressive bombast in perfect mimicry but they carefully craft out atmospheric passages as well.

While i’m not keen on blatant ripoffs of other band’s styles, i have to admit that VEXOVOID matches their muse exceedingly well and even sounds like they could pull off a usurping of the throne if only they had developed this style first. While Vektor is without a doubt the primarily band of worship here, there are also nods to “Rust In Peace” era Megadeath as well as the true pioneers of sci-fi thrash Voivod. As i’m writing this review and listening to this album, i’m torn between being highly impressed with the outstanding musicianship that cranks out some of the best 21st century technical thrash apart from their heroes of worship Vektor themselves but i’m also left with a slight bad taste because it’s sorely lacking in any sort of original stamp whatsoever. So what i’m left with an impression that this band is physically ready for prime time but needs to have a few epiphanies in order to glean some inspiration or reflection on their own identity. Well worth hearing and recommended as an up and coming band that will hopefully find its own voice on its journey. It certainly is dripping with potential and a great listen if you can stomach such copycatism.

ALTERED AEON Dispiritism

Album · 2004 · Technical Thrash Metal
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UMUR
"Dispiritism" is the debut full-length studio album by Swedish thrash metal act Altered Aeon. The album was released through BLack Lotus Records in November 2004. Altered Aeon was formed in 2001, but had a rather short recording career as their 2007 "Reborn as Gods" demo didn´t result in a new record contract and the band subsequently disbanded.

The music on "Dispiritism" is a technical brand of thrash metal with US power metal leanings, and artists like Charred Walls of the Damned, Control Denied, and Antithesis, are valid references. The playing is on a high technical level, and lead vocalist Kjell Andersson sings both raw shouting vocals, and more melodic clean ones.

The album features 10 tracks and a full playing time of 42:06 minutes, but there´s a limited edition available of the album too which features two bonus tracks. An instrumental track titled "Cellular Disorganization", which is actually quite a great track, that could easily have been part of the regular edition, and a cover of "Welcome Home" by King Diamond. The latter is really well played, and as a result of the clear, powerful, and detailed sound production on "Dispiritism", it´s possible to hear details on this cover version, that you can´t hear on the original. Unfortunately that track and the rest of the tracks on the album, which feature vocals, are mared by the fact that Kjell Andersson isn´t the most interesting singer out there. His voice is as such powerful enough and he hits the notes too, but his tone and delivery just aren´t that interesting (and neither are the melody lines), and the vocals are soon reduced to something that is just there, or even worse a slight annoying element.

It´s not a major issue, as the instrumental part of the music pulls in a very positive direction featuring some intricate technical drumming, relatively complex thrashy riffing, and some very fine melodic guitar solos, but it´s not a positive either when the vocals don´t add to the music. They are generally toneless and lacking emotion.

The material is overall very well composed, but could have featured more catchy parts to hook the listener. Too often I find myself listening for technical chops instead of enjoying the catchiness of a track. I realize my review has come out a bit more negative than intended, but when I hear something featuring as much potential to be great as "Dispiritism" does, and that potential isn´t fulfilled, I can´t help being a bit critical. When that is said, "Dispiritism" is still quite an interesting technical thrash metal release with US power metal leanings, and if you enjoy the genre, and maybe some of the artists I mentioned above, chances are you might enjoy this one too. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

MADROST The Essence of Time Matches No Flesh

Album · 2017 · Technical Thrash Metal
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adg211288
It was only last year that the metal world was hit by storm by the technical thrash metal tour de force that was the third Vektor album Terminal Redux (2016). Now their US countrymen Madrost seem to be hankering for a bit of that kind of action, if the pulling out all the stops approach of their own third album The Essence of Time Matches No Flesh (2017) is anything to judge these things by. It's been a few years since Madrost released Into The Aquatic Sector (2014), an instrumentally accomplished but not full-on technical death-thrash metal album, but a few years and a 50% new line-up later they've really evolved into something much more complex. I'm sure most thrash metal listeners will be sceptical over any band being able to touch Vektor, who are of course absolutely insanely talented musicians who undoubtedly deserve the praise they have gotten to date, but here's the thing for me:

The Essence of Time Matches No Flesh is a much better metal album than Terminal Redux.

I didn't want to make this review all about Madrost verses Vektor, especially since technical thrash metal is hardly a field unique to the two of them, but it's simply too good a comparison to play with when describing how Madrost's music sounds, since I'm sure most people reading this have at least sampled the Vektor album, seeing as it was basically treated like the metal event of the decade last year. If you haven't then I'd guess that you either don't like thrash metal (in which case why are you reading this?) or have been living under a rock.

When considering how both The Essence of Time Matches No Flesh and Terminal Redux exist in the same genre and even play with similar influences beyond thrash metal, yet come across differently, I find that the phrase 'less is more' really seems appropriate. Terminal Redux is a massive release featuring about 73 minutes of music while with The Essence of Time Matches No Flesh you can flip those two digits around. The more precise running time if 37:39 (that's about ten minutes longer than Into the Aquatic Sector ran for). There are three less tracks than Vektor's album (giving this album seven) and all are written in a much more 'to the point' kind of way, though can still pass the six minute mark, as is the case with No Future and Dimensions. There is less music here in terms of tracks and length, yet it leaves a stronger impression in no small part because of that. The shorter total running time means that when the album concludes I think about playing it again much sooner, where Vektor's lengthy opus can easily be seen as overwhelming.

Madrost favour a raw and unadulterated aggression when it comes to their music, which is enhanced perfectly by the production which is professional yet not overly slick and polished. There is some melody to be found, but its used quite subtly. Their style retains the death metal element of albums past but they are certainly a case where the thrash metal elements are considerable more prominent than the death metal ones. While The Essence of Time Matches No Flesh can even get a little bit progressive as well as technical Madrost don't mess around with fancy frills and unexpected influences and just get the job done, happily kicking arse along the way via the occasional softer atmospheric 'breather' section, which really only serve to further highlight the intensity of the album when Madrost shift things back into fifth gear. It is, needless to say, a hard hitting and powerful album with insane musicianship that's technically proficient but never self-indulgent and that's exactly why it works so well. If I had to pick a few favourites from it I'd have to name Abstractions, Dimensions and Eyes of the Deceit but the remaining four certainly aren't lesser tracks in any way.

Madrost are obviously not anywhere near as well known as Vektor, yet, but if there is any justice in this world then The Essence of Time Matches No Flesh will be the album that changes that. Even if you ultimately disagree with my assessment that they have one upped Vektor with this album (something I would repeat even if you held a gun to my head), there's no doubt in my mind that at the very least Madrost have delivered 2017's response to Terminal Redux and perhaps even the best thrash metal album of the year.

VEKTOR Terminal Redux

Album · 2016 · Technical Thrash Metal
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The Crow
A brutal travel through space and death!

Hearing Terminal Redux is like being propelled through light years of heinous wars, apocalyptic starship crashes and obscure mythologies. The concept of the album is obtuse and difficult to understand, but also an adventure to discover, just like the music of Vektor. They proudly carry the banner of technical death metal today. And they deserve it!

The production of the album is also very solid, leaving space for every instrument. I would mention the guitars, which sound piercing and pristine, and also the powerful drums. Maybe the bass is a bit low for my taste, but that's usual in thrash and death metal anyway. But let's talk about the songs!

Charging the Void introduces us in a very powerful way in the style of the album. A very technical and fierce death metal but with tons of epic melodies, really catchy for adventurous listeners. The DiSanto vocals are pure black metal nevertheless, and they are accompanied in this song by splendid clean female choirs. A very solid, progressive and surprising song!

Cygnus Terminal is a bit more melancholic and melodic, but also powerful and it contains incredible drumming from Blake Anderson. LCD is even faster, with brutal lyrics with helps to define the concept of the record. And then comes Mountains Above the sun, a very wise track which introduces variety while being just an introduction for Ultimate Artificer, a song which is a bit more classic death metal, but it contains some of the best riffs of the album.

But hey... The second half of the CD is even better! Pteropticon is one of the most complete songs of the album with its devilish speed and brutal melodies. Is one of the best written tracks. Psycotropia increases the craziness level and it contains one hell of a bass solo. And Pillars of Sand follow the more straightforward line of Ultimate Artificer... At this point we start to feel again the album needs a change.

And then we find Collapse! A semi-acoustic and beautiful track with clean vocals which increases its intensity progressively bringing a beautiful moment when clean vocals and growls unite, making a very original and catchy section. The final part of the song is a bit more conventional, but also great. Another marvelous bass playing from Frank Chin!

Recharging the Void... If I had to introduce Vektor to someone, this would be the chosen song to do that. Over 13 minutes of epic melodies, haunting clean choirs, brutal guitars and incredible riffs. It's arguably the best song of the album and one of the highlights in Vektor's career. Just a must hearing song for every prog metal lover! Just like the rest of the album.

Conclusion: Terminal Redux has a pair of not so brilliant moments where the music can be a bit repetitive. But as a whole is just one of the best metal albums of this decade. Superb songwriting, cryptic concept and impressive instrumental skill which recalls the best technical death metal moments of the 90's while it achieves to sound different and very actual. If you are not scared by extreme metal and black metal vocals, you should give Terminal Redux a chance. It's a very impressive release from which confirms that Vektor are not the future of metal anymore. They are the present!

Thank you for this great experience, guys.

Best Tracks: Charging the Void, Pteropticon, Psycotropia, Collapse, Recharging the Void.

My rating: ****1/2

This review was originally written for ProgArchives.com

HELLWITCH Syzygial Miscreancy

Album · 1990 · Technical Thrash Metal
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aglasshouse
Although this album is technically considered to be "thrash metal", it's no big mystery where Hellwitch put their allegiance with, genre-wise. Atheist, Death, and Morbid Angel are just a few of the bands the band pride themselves on sharing the stage with. The influence of these particular bands are evident especially on the band's 1990 debut, arriving in the wake of other such debut releases like Piece of Time and Altars of Madness arriving but a year prior.

However although Hellwitch are clearly inspired by the late-80's technical death movement, they still retain the fan-tribute aura more than I've seen many other bands do. The music is amateurish, almost demo-like, making Syzygial Miscreancy really hard to differentiate from the six years-worth of demos leading up to it, production-wise. This doesn't necessarily detract from the quality, rather it actually sort of renders it it's own charm as a relatively shoestring-budget release. Of course though a not very technically diverse musical landscape can, more often than not, make an album sound rather flat and make tracks sound almost the same, which granted does happen a few times on this particular record. However a few factors make Hellwitch not actually fall on their face.

1. The musicianship. I know we've already rattled on about Hellwitch's influences, but it must be restated as it's extremely important to how they carry themselves. If they are to truly live up to the wrecking-balls that influenced them, they better be able to play like them. And they do. In particular the channeling of Atheist is made clear with the face-melting eclecticism of all three members, especially rapid tour de force on the kit with Joe Schnessel. The almost Voivod-ian guitar solos and the unexpected tonal shifts and guitar hooks all lend a very professional atmosphere even amidst all of the low-fi fuzz.

2. The overall structure of Syzygial Miscreancy is very laudable, with the aforementioned tonal shifts and surprise melodic riffs keep each track very interesting. The album has a short runtime of only 25 minutes, minuscule in terms of most albums of their caliber, yet this short time also makes it so the album doesn't get stale in an instant and doesn't contain filler. It is something I wish more bands would pay attention to- a shorter album could spell great things for how well it ages.

But Hellwitch does make a few mistakes here and there. For instance the random vocal filters Patrick Ranieri uses on some tracks just sound absolutely ridiculous and out of place, and really only serve to get a laugh out of me personally when they're there. Interestingly enough I find that Patrick Ranieri's vocals are the biggest problem with this album, and it could honestly be due to the production. Usually on other albums audio engineers are able to blend the musicians quite well so that, even when one might mess up, it can sometimes go unnoticed, shrouded amongst the music. Amateurish production is more dangerous in this sense because it is sometimes unable to cut the fat. Ranieri's vocal screams, especially on 'Nosferatu' can are extremely strange and silly because often times he sounds more like he's hyperventilating and not screaming. This happens a few times throughout but overall it isn't that huge of an issue as it doesn't seek to degrade any of the instruments, but when these vocal hiccups are there they are still quite distracting.

In all though this particular album is still a winner. Short, sweet, and charming in it's occasionally maladroit delivery, Hellwitch's debut is something definitely to check out.

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