ALPHAKILL

Technical Thrash Metal • Canada
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Alphakill is a Canadian (Winnipeg, Manitoba) technical thrash metal act founded in 2010. The group released their debut album Unmitigated Disaster in 2012, followed by Degrees of Manipulation in 2018.

- Biography by adg211288, November 2018.
Thanks to adg211288 for the addition

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ALPHAKILL Unmitigated Disaster album cover 3.50 | 1 ratings
Unmitigated Disaster
Technical Thrash Metal 2012
ALPHAKILL Degrees of Manipulation album cover 3.83 | 2 ratings
Degrees of Manipulation
Technical Thrash Metal 2018

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ALPHAKILL Degrees of Manipulation

Album · 2018 · Technical Thrash Metal
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UMUR
"Degrees of Manipulation" is the 2nd full-length studio album by Canadian thrash metal act Alphakill. The album was independently released in October 2018. It´s the successor to "Unmitigated Disaster" from 2012. Alphakill were formed in 2010 and originally were a four-piece consisting of Jesse Skoleski (Bass, Backing Vocals), Derrick Kroll (Drums, Vocals), Jon Warren (Guitars, Backing Vocals), and Justin Stear (Vocals, Guitars). Skoleski left Alphakill after recording "Unmitigated Disaster (2012)", and was replaced by Jon Anderson. Anderson never got the chance to record with the band though as he left again in 2014. The remaining members of Alphakill didn´t find a new bassist before recording "Degrees of Manipulation" and the album is therefore recorded as a three-piece with Warren and Stear handling the bass. After the recording sessions were finished a new bassist was added to the band in Jordan Gosselin.

6 years between your debut album and your sophomore album is a long time, even in this day and age, where artists don´t necessarily release albums each year anymore, but Alphakill have managed to continue and evolve the thrash metal style they initiated on "Unmitigated Disaster (2012)" rather seamlessly. It´s raw and powerful thrash metal, but it´s not devoid of melodic moments, and lead vocalist/guitarist Justin Stear is a skilled singer who can sing both raw and more melodic when that is called for (not completely unlike the singing style of Russ Anderson of Forbidden, but not quite as unique). The material on the 10 track, 52:54 minutes long album are generally vers/chorus structured, but Alphakill successfully incorporate bridges, loads of shredding guitar solos and harmonies, and other little details to keep the album entertaining and varied throughout (the use of riot gang backing vocals is for example a nice touch).

The quality of the songwriting is pretty consistent although some tracks are slightly more memorable than others. Nothing is sub par or anything like that, but there are some tracks I remember better than others after finishing the album. Highlights to my ears are tracks like the opening "The Straw Man" and "Bow to No Man", but some of the longer tracks like "Morality Blurred" and "Monumental Hypocrisy" feature some of the most technically interesting moments on the album. While I´d describe the core musical style of the album as classic US/Canadian styled thrash metal, there are actually some pretty technical playing on some tracks.

"Degrees of Manipulation" features a raw and powerful sounding production, which suits the material well. Taking into consideration that this is an independent release, I think Alphakill have managed to produce a very professional sounding affair. So is it a step up from the already high quality of the debut album? I´d say they are pretty equal in quality. In some areas Alphakill have evolved and developed their style (the vocals are a bit more diverse and the occasional technical edge is also more prominent here than on the debut), and in some areas I think there are signs of stagnation (or at least some tracks sound like the band are satisfied with continuing the style they initiated on the debut). Upon conclusion "Degrees of Manipulation" is a good quality sophomore album by Alphakill, and they can be proud of their work, which should appeal to fans of old school US/Canadian thrash metal with a melodic sensibility and the occasional technical edge. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

ALPHAKILL Unmitigated Disaster

Album · 2012 · Technical Thrash Metal
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UMUR
"Unmitigated Disaster" is the debut full-length studio album by Canadian thrash metal act Alphakill. The album was independently released in June 2012. Alphakill were formed in 2010 and are on this release a four-piece consisting of Jesse Skoleski (Bass, Backing Vocals), Derrick Kroll (Drums, Vocals), Jon Warren (Guitars, Backing Vocals), and Justin Stear (Vocals, Guitars).

Right off the bat the music style is established by the opening track "Thrash Eternal". Powerful riff heavy thrash metal, with a raw singing vocalist in front. Justin Stear is not just a raw shouting thrash metal vocalist though, as he can actually sing too (and the riot gang backing vocals are also quite charming). Not that Alphakill ever fall into the power ballad trap, or try to incorporate clean singing in an attempt to reach a mainstream audience, but there is a melodic sensibility to his singing, which makes his vocal performance a bit more varied than your average raw sounding thrash metal singer.

The band are well playing and perform their parts with great skill and conviction. The material on the 9 track, 51:03 minutes long album are well written, catchy, and powerful, and while most tracks are relatively formulaic vers/chorus structured (and also lyrically without surprises), Alphakill understand the importance of writing a memorable bridge, play shredding solos (and there´s even the rare nod towards neo-classical shredding), deliver guitar harmonies, and incorporate a tempo change, when that is called for. So there is a good compositional balance and variation throughout the album.

"Unmitigated Disaster" also features a raw and powerful sounding production, which suits the material well, so all in all it´s a good quality thrash metal album. But when all the positives are mentioned I do have to say that Alphakill aren´t the most original sounding thrash metal band out there. It´s not that they sound like any other particular act, but they don´t really play anything you haven´t heard before either. Fortunately what they deliver, are delivered with such great passion and skill, that the lack of an original sound becomes a minor issue, and fans of the genre shouldn´t ignore the album because of that. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

ALPHAKILL Degrees of Manipulation

Album · 2018 · Technical Thrash Metal
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Nightfly
Whilst I’ve heard no shortage of great death metal in 2018 I can’t really say the same about thrash, though I have to say I focus more on death metal these days, so I may have missed some gems. The latest Artillery album “The Face Of Fear” which certainly impressed me and Revocation’s “The Outer Ones” are my top picks of the year, the latter in particular blowing me away as Revocation always do with their technical death/thrash. Perhaps they don’t count though as they’re as much a death metal band as a thrash one. Another band on the more technical side of things is Canadians Alphakill who despite releasing their debut album “Unmitigated Disaster” in 2012 have passed me by until now. I still haven’t heard that debut but I’m pleased to have caught up with them on their second recently released album “Degrees Of Mainipulation”.

These guys can really play and while they seem to be have been influenced by old school thrash like Forbidden and Exodus the sharp production brings their more technical riffing bang up to date. Brilliant musicianship alone will not however make a great album and thankfully these guys have the songs and riffs to back up their musical chops. Yes “Degrees Of Manipulation” is jam packed with killer riffs and incendiary soloing. I’m also impressed with vocalist Justin Stear’s more traditional and cleaner approach being more in the Charlie Benante or Forbidden’s Russ Anderson vein though nearer the latter doesn’t particularly sound like either. Most of the songs are pretty fast, as you’d expect in this genre, though constant twists and turns keep things interesting with drummer Derrick Kroll tight and dextrous playing anchoring it all down. Guitar and bass duties is shared between vocalist Justin Stear and Jon Warren who can shred with the best of them when required but they never lose sight of the importance of the riffs. I could point to pretty much any song as evidence but Morality Blurred being a favourite of mine is as good an example as any of how good this band is.

As I already said the production is sharp but a minor criticism is that it could benefit from more bottom end but for an independent release they’ve done a great job. Whilst these guys remain largely unknown at the moment “Degrees Of Maipulation” has the musicianship and songs to reach a far wider audience. Definitely a band to keep an eye on and I look forward to album number three.

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