Thursday, May 5, 2016

Exterminus – Digital Downfall

Exterminus is one of many bands in an ever-growing UK thrash scene. “Digital Downfall” is the band’s first EP, and manages to make a pretty decent mark in just 4 songs. As you might have guessed from the artwork (which has a character who is reminiscent of Denial’s “Antichrist President”), Exterminus is not the most original of bands. They are however, not the most derivative either. In other words, their riffs don’t push the boundaries of thrash, but it doesn’t feel like you’ve heard them many times before. Comparing them to a long-lost 80s thrash band would be accurate because there were a lot of bands back then with unique riffing styles.

Vocally, Exterminus goes for a death/thrash approach, leaning more towards the former than the latter, though he has both abilities (the title track being a good example where he pulls off a more typical thrash shout alongside his more common guttural). Aside from the singing, Exterminus brings everything you could want on a thrash album. There are longer melodic instrumental breaks, showing off enjoyable guitar play, with minimal focus on extreme technical acrobatics. Speed is in no shortage throughout the release, making for a headbanging good time! 

There isn’t too much more to say about “Digital Downfall” because Exterminus has their own indefinable qualities. Many of my favourite thrash bands are groups who were fond of the major tropes of the subgenre, but who you could recognize instantly (Intruder, Evildead, Gammacide, and Hallows Eve all come to mind). Exterminus continues on in this vein because as soon as you hear their music, you know it’s them. This is the key ingredient for remaining fresh amongst an occasionally stale thrash crowd.

Be sure to check out and like Exterminus on Facebook!

Highlights
"Digital Downfall"
"Deceiving Nature"

Final Rating
4.1/5 or 82%. 

Written by Scott

Monday, May 2, 2016

Gruesome – Dimensions of Horror

Gruesome’s “Savage Land” was one of the most exciting death metal releases in years. No band has ever captured the sound of early Death better, and for that reason, the follow-up release, “Dimensions of Horror”, was eagerly anticipated by me. The formula hasn’t changed here (though this release leans slightly more towards “Scream Bloody Gore”, whereas the previous release felt like it was designed as an homage to “Leprosy”), but the end result is very different. Part of what made “Savage Land” so brilliant is that it was written in the style of Death, but it didn’t feel like a rip-off of the band. There were a couple of close calls in terms of similar riffs, but nothing egregious. “Dimensions of Horror”, on the other hand, is a straight-up copy of Death’s material. Every single riff on this EP sounds as though the band picked one of Chuck’s riffs, altered it slightly, and put it on this record.

I’m a staunch defender of newer thrash and traditional heavy metal bands that have very little originality. There’s nothing wrong with carrying on in a style that you like. People often make comments like “why listen to Evile when I can listen to Metallica or Slayer”, but it’s always good to have more material if you like the style. In Gruesome’s case, however, those comments are entirely fair. There’s really no point in listening to this EP because you can hear the original riffs on most of Death’s early work. 

In defense of the band, they’ve put together an enjoyable EP if Death’s riffs aren’t permanently wired into your brain. In fact, this is a very conflicting release: Death rules so much that despite all of the negativity this review has had, there’s not a second of it that could be considered mediocre. The problem is that it’s someone else’s music. Every element of this EP is great, from the riffs, to the vocal patterns and delivery, to the drumming, and even the production, but it just feels pointless. If you can look past the blatant copying of Death’s riffs, “Dimensions of Horror” will be in constant rotation, but “Savage Land” was a much better take on Death’s sound. For that reason, this EP is a major disappointment for 2016.

Be sure to check out and like Gruesome on Facebook!

Highlights
"Scream Bloody Gore"
"Leprosy"

Final Rating
3.0/5 or 60%. 

Written by Scott