Thrash Roundup w/ Hans & Bear


For the impending 91st anniversary of their pact, the Fritz and the Bear have set aside their differences and renewed their oaths in good faith, gathering around the thrash fire for warmth in this cold, hateful world.

Shatter BrainPitchfork Justice
May 1, 2020

There was a time in the ’90s when thrash had pretty much been written off because hardly anybody seemed to know what to do with it. Shatter Brain hearkens back to this time, resembling one of the records of that era that tried to breathe new life into the genre by mixing it with some outside influences—with limited success. In their case, the influences are sludge and a bit of hardcore. That’s not a bad mix, but they play it a little too safe, never fully channeling the vileness of sludge or the troglodyte aggression of hardcore. The most notable nods to both come from the varied singer, who can shout, bark, screech, and do everything in between, including some very nice cleans. Definitely one of the few highlights of the album. -HANS

ShrapnelPalace for the Insane
May 15th

I only really checked this one out thanks to the Chioreanu adorning its cover, but it turned out to be a fine piece of thrash. Shrapnel‘s got old-school riffs, but a modern edge to the way they play around and experiment with their songs, which the clean and punchy production reflects upon well. The experimentation is just occasional seasoning though and it could stand to be much more; Palaces for the Insane clocks almost an hour and most of the songs follow a similar template with a similar tempo, which can quickly turn it into a tedious experience. The downside of the mix is that even the faster songs à la “Might of Cygnus” & Bury Me Alive” don’t actually feel like they pick up the pace, and when it comes to slower cuts, the melodic edge of “Begin Again” is pretty much alone. With just a few tweaks, Shrapnel might be onto something great. -KARHU

Order here

WitchesThe Fates
June 5, 2020

While this is the first I’ve heard of them, Witches has actually been a long-standing thrash institution, dating all the way back to the late ’80s, even though their output was fairly minimal. This latest album of theirs is a pleasantly brutal death/thrash affair with the occasional foray into black metal territory. They certainly know how to write a tune; while the material may not exactly be memorable, it’s engaging throughout and knows when to give you a little pause from the onslaught. My only major gripe is that the production could do with some tweaking; I’d enjoy the album a whole lot more if everything wasn’t so damn loud. -HANS

Pre-order here

My FuneralGraveblaster
December 13th, 2019

My Funeral‘s been around for ages, but never seemed to get much wind behind them. It could be that name, I know I avoided them for years because of it. They’ve been quiet lately too, the 15-minute Graveblaster being their first offering in three years. A bit of punk, a bit of crossover, a bit of groove and a bit of melody intersperse, but never interfere, with their aggressive thrashing, and for an offering of this length, that’s purely good. “Nuclear Storm” doesn’t grip as well as the rest, but even though it’s the longest track on the EP, it’s a minor quibble. And the mix is near-perfect for a record of this ilk too. -KARHU

TorrefyLife Is Bad
July 1, 2020

Oof… let’s not talk about what else is bad here and go straight to the music. What enticed me about this was their own description of their style, which they call “Black Speed Death Thrash.” That sounds like it could be a good mix—albeit not one that provides the tools to fill a 65-minute album. My fears of utter boredom were allayed somewhat when I realized that this is not standard blackened thrash. In fact, the only thing consistently blackened is the (at times gratingly one-note) vocal approach, and the thrash part of it all comes from the band’s background in tech thrash. With that, they at least have the potential to write interesting long-form material. As for the rest of the genre tags, there’s a bit of speed metal here and there, perhaps most notably in the utterly face-melting, ridiculously long guitar solos, but I can’t hear any death. That makes 2.5 out of 4, which proved enough for the album to remain enticing, if incredibly taxing. Nobody should be doing albums this long, and Torrefy is no exception; as the 9-minute opener soon proves, you’re in for a good bit of filler. Nonetheless, the parts that work work really well, and shorter songs like “GFYD” are chock full of them. -HANS

Presumably, the album will eventually be made available through their Bandcamp page, but for now you’ll have to content with that lone, separate single and these Youtube videos.

Cauldron Black RamSlaver
May 22nd

It might be a bit of a stretch to include Cauldron Black Ram here, but their idiosyncratic black/death combo has a fair bit of thrash in it. The line-up comprised of three (current or former) members of Mournful Congregation, two of whom also play in StarGazer, was what initially caught my eye, and unfortunately also what maintained a degree of interest. But eventually the sludgy tones and burly, thrashing riffs counteracted with no less burly melodies and a doomy pace. Slaver might not end up as the best thrash(/black/death) record you’ll buy in 2020, but there isn’t anyone who’s putting these sounds together quite like this, putting them among the most interesting ones. –KARHU

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