Review: Oxygen Destroyer – Bestial Manifestations of Malevolence and Death
Back in April, Jordan Farrow (frontman of death thrashers Oxygen Destroyer) gave us some killer exclusive insight into their latest Kaiju-worshipping monster of a record, and today our resident underground riff merchant BW returns to give you the full review. Since nearly the dawn of metal, people have tried writing music that leans on specific stories or themes, be that in the form of a Satanic rock opera or costumed sleaze freaks trying to take over the world with filth. In that time, themed metal has often proved to be more miss than hit, with a litany of projects repeatedly showing how bad of an idea it is to focus more on maintaining a focus on a specific movie or video game or what have you, over actual songwriting or riffs.
Oxygen Destroyer completely sidestep that by writing absolutely killer songs that don’t pander at all to Godzilla mythos in the music, while also being completely and totally dedicated to the might of the Kaiju. Though the cover of Bestial Manifestations of Malevolence and Death sports a proud beast mid-way through an act of civilization destruction, and the lyrics of the songs all discuss much of the same thing (even the band’s name being a reference to a weapon from the mythos), it’s clear that the songs were written in a much more traditional manner. Bestial Manifestations of Malevolence and Death is an ode to classic brutal thrash metal; that through its entire punishing 30 minutes slaps riff after killer riff at listeners, rarely repeating after a section is done and slowing down just often enough to give extra weight to the following faster sections.
Much as Oxygen Destroyer clearly worship old Godzilla movies and retro monster magic, their worship of thrash takes a firm focus on the older bands that trailblazed new levels of extremity. You won’t find Exodus-sounding pizza thrash riffs anywhere here, and the key words of the day are Vader (particularly demo era), Morbid Saint, and early Sepultura. Much like their clear influences, Oxygen Destroyer put a much higher focus on blazing speeds and brutal rhythms over things like solos or technical leads, blazing Slayer-esque tremolo riffs alternating with heavy Demolition Hammer type pummeling. Occasional melodic lines add an extra touch of variety and memorability that keeps the whole package from becoming stale at any point in the album, which is also aided by the brief playtime. Vocals are a menacing higher-range snarl, and the drumming is both tight and fast as all hell. My only real problem with the songwriting is that it feels like they had hit a groove and continued doing things in the same vein until the end, which means that the latter half is a bit less diverse than the former half; however, this is a relatively small complaint given how crushing the album is, and the short length means that the tendency away from dynamic songwriting doesn’t have time to become an issue.
The album is mostly well produced, with drums cutting easily through the mix with a good heft that adds a lot of power to the songs (always necessary with good thrash metal, in my opinion) without ever edging out the audibility of the riffs or vocals. I don’t really like how the snare is tuned, but it’s easily ignored most of the time. I also wish that the bass guitar tone was a bit more focused so that it could stand out further from the guitar, but that’s also not something that’s at all of detriment to the album.
All in all, Bestial Manifestations of Malevolence and Death is a major success of an album that speaks a lot to the band’s love for an under appreciated era in thrash metal and a style that they certainly play very, very well. If you’re into brutal riffs and can handle (or enjoy!) some Godzilla samples, then this is the album for you. Major props as well to the always-talented Necromogarip for the absolutely amazing cover art on this. I hope it gets the vinyl treatment soon because an album this killer deserves it.