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CORONER No More Color Album Cover No More Color
4.38 | 43 ratings
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VOIVOD Dimension Hatröss Album Cover Dimension Hatröss
4.34 | 52 ratings
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VEKTOR Terminal Redux Album Cover Terminal Redux
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)
4.33 | 12 ratings
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VEKTOR Outer Isolation Album Cover Outer Isolation
4.18 | 42 ratings
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CRYPTOSIS Bionic Swarm Album Cover Bionic Swarm
4.37 | 10 ratings
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VOIVOD Killing Technology Album Cover Killing Technology
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
4.38 | 8 ratings
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WATCHTOWER Control And Resistance Album Cover Control And Resistance
4.18 | 30 ratings
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CORONER Mental Vortex Album Cover Mental Vortex
4.14 | 35 ratings
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VEKTOR Black Future Album Cover Black Future
4.08 | 46 ratings
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MEKONG DELTA Lurking Fear Album Cover Lurking Fear
4.25 | 8 ratings
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Lower Form Resistance
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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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"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.

VOIVOD Morgöth Tales

Album · 2023 · Technical Thrash Metal
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"Morgöth Tales" is the sixteenth full-length studio album by Canadian, Québec based progressive metal/thrash metal act Voivod. The album was released through Century Media Records in July 2023. It´s the successor to "Synchro Anarchy" from February 2022. "Morgöth Tales" is not a studio album featuring new original material though. It´s instead a re-recording album featuring re-recordings of 9 tracks originally recorded and released between 1983-2003 plus one new original composition (titled "Morgöth Tales").

The current incarnation of Voivod have played together for the last 9 years (bassist Dominique "Rocky" Laroche being the last member to join in 2014), and the band have toured quite a lot in those years. They´ve obviously had a wish to show their fans how this version of the band interprete some of the band´s classic tracks, instead of just releasing another best-of compilation album (they´ve already been there and done that). This is also a celebration of the 40th anniversary of the release of the band´s first demo "Anachronism" from June 1983.

The tracklist is presented in chronological order with the oldest tracks first. "Condemned to the Gallows" opens "Morgöth Tales". It´s a track which originally appeared on the January 1984 "To the Death!..." demo, and which subsequently also would appear on the "Metal Massacre V" various artists compilation (Metal Blade Records, 1984), which helped spread Voivod´s name. Along with "Thrashing Rage" from Voivod´s second album "Rrröööaaarrr" (Combat Records, March 1986) which follows as track number two on "Morgöth Tales", "Condemned to the Gallows" represents the early punk/hardcore influenced speed/thrash metal years of Voivod´s discography. Raw, savage, and aggressive. The re-recordings are of course a lot more polished and you can actually hear all details, which isn´t always possible on the raw early releases from Voivod, and personally I enjoy these re-recordings tremendously...but then again I was never much of a fan of the early Voivod releases, so fans of those releases may find these re-recordings a bit too polished and clean.

The title track from "Killing Technology" (Noise Records, April 1987) follows along with "Macrosolutions to Megaproblems" from "Dimension Hatröss" (Noise Records, June 1988), and both represent the technical/progressive thrash metal part of the band´s history. Both are great tracks, but I prefer the originals. Then comes "Pre-Ignition" from "Nothingface" (MCA Records, October 1989), with it´s almost avant-garde technical/progressive metal sound. "Nothingface" is such a weird and unique album, that not even Voivod have ever been able to make anything like it since. "Nuage Fractal" from "Angel Rat" (MCA Records, November 1991) and "Fix My Heart" from "The Outer Limits" (MCA Records, August 1993) represent Voivod´s psychadelic progressive metal phase and both re-recordings work well. "Rise" from "Phobos" (Hypnotic Records, August 1997) is the only track on "Morgöth Tales" from the Eric Forrest-led era of the band´s history, and the re-recorded version actually features both bass and vocals recorded by Forrest. It´s a decent re-recording but a bit redundant to my ears as the original was already a badass heavy and aggressive song. "Morgöth Tales" closes with "Rebel Robot" from the eponymously titled album (Chophouse Records, March 2003) and features Jason Newsted on bass, and the new original track titled "Morgöth Tales". The former is as faceless as the original from 2003 and the latter is a pretty good quality 2023 Voivod track, which pretty much sounds like the material from "Synchro Anarchy" (Century Media Records, February 2022).

Upon conclusion the idea to re-record some of the classics from Voivod´s back catalogue isn´t a bad one. Personally I prefer the originals (except for the re-recordings of the early tracks, which are pretty great) but these versions are generally both well performed and arranged too. I have a minor issue with the way the drums are produced as they sound a little thin and clicky, but that´s probably an aquired taste. Other than that "Morgöth Tales" is a good quality release and a 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

HELLWITCH Anthropophagi

Demo · 1994 · Technical Thrash Metal
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"Anthropophagi" is a November 1994 demo by US, Florida based death/thrash metal act Hellwitch. The demo was independently released. It was recorded in August 1994 by the duo lineup of Patrick Ranieri (vocals, guitars, bass) and Joel Suarez (drums). It´s the successor release to the November 1993 "Terraasymmetry" EP. Hellwitch lived a chaotic existence since their inception in 1984 with label issues and constant lineup changes, and the only constant member of the lineup has been Ranieri.

With that in mind it´s a bit surprising how consistent Hellwitch have been from the earliest demo releases to this demo release so many years down the line, but consistency in sound, style, and the quality of their releases are arguably one of the trademarks of Hellwitch. "Anthropophagi" is of course no different as it´s another high quality technical death/thrash metal release. It´s intense, aggressive, and highly energetic music, with Ranieri´s distinct sounding high pitched aggressive screaming on top. Hellwitch have a sound, which is completely their own. The only band I can think of which sounds even remotely like Hellwitch is early Atheist (before they spazzed/jazzed out), but even that is a stretch.

The five tracks on the 23:38 minutes long demo are a mix of three new original compositions and two re-recordings of "Torture Chamber" and "Fate at Pain's End", which originally appeared on the January 1986 "Transgressive Sentience" demo. You wouldn´t notice that the tracks were written years apart though, as Hellwitch as mentioned above are incredibly consistent in sound and style. The quality of the performances, the songwriting, and the sound production are high throughout the demo, and upon conclusion "Anthropophagi" is another high quality release from Hellwitch and it´s well worth investigating for fans of technical death/thrash metal. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

HELLWITCH Terraasymmetry

EP · 1993 · Technical Thrash Metal
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"Terraasymmetry" is an EP release by US, Florida based death/thrash metal act Hellwitch. The EP was released through Lethal Records in November 1993. It´s the follow-up release to the Hellwitch´s debut full-length studio album "Syzygial Miscreancy" (Wild Rags Records, December 1990). The three tracks featured on the 14:05 minutes long EP were recorded and mixed in August 1991 at Morrisound Studios, Tampa, Florida, but it took over 2 years before the recordings saw the light of day, and Hellwitch have claimed again and again, that Lethal Records ripped them off and that they never saw as much as a dime or even a copy of the EP from the label (in those days that would mean a CD).

It´s too bad that "Terraasymmetry" only saw a limited release through a small label (the same can be said about "Syzygial Miscreancy", but at least some people have heard of that one) because Hellwitch have produced another highly energetic, aggressive and very unique sounding technical death/thrash metal release here. "Terraasymmetry" and "Dawn of Apostasy" are new original compositions while "Satan's Wrath" is a re-recording of the original demo version from the January 1986 "Transgressive Sentience" demo. The quality of the performances, the songwriting, and the sound production are high throughout the demo, and "Terraasymmetry" is upon conclusion a good quality release. A 3.5 - 4 star (75%) rating is deserved.

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