After releasing a demo in 2012, Philadelphia’s Infiltrator got back to work by releasing a self-titled EP in 2013 (re-released on cassette earlier this year by Unspeakable Axe Records). The artwork for this release suggests something raw and dirty, and that’s exactly what Infiltrator delivers. At its core, this EP is pure speed metal, but the band incorporates many influences beyond standard speed metal groups like Agent Steel or Metal Church. The primary influence is more on the blackened side of things. Drawing on the spitting venomous vocals of Cronos, Infiltrator’s singer attacks the listener with his words, creating a sound that perfectly complements that rough production. In an interesting twist, the band counters this dark sound with fantastic use of melody. About halfway through “Hellripper”, for example, is an excellent guitar break that quickly builds into a more atmospheric section (complete with “whoa-ohs”), until finally erupting in some virtuosic guitar work.
Great guitar work is not limited to this first song. Whether it is through impressive shredding or unleashing fiery riffs, the guitar playing on “Infiltrator” is top-notch. It’s even surprising at times. Returning to the aforementioned “Hellripper” for a moment, near the end of the song is a wicked harmonized lead. Its appearance is incredibly brief, and for many it would like pass by their ears, but as a huge fan of the melodic power metal scene in Europe, this was an unexpected, but welcome surprise as it was reminiscent of bands like Helloween or Gamma Ray.
The second song on this release is definitely the strongest. The title “Crush The False” says it all. This is no-holds barred speed metal the way it was meant to be done. Anyone who is trying to hide the fact that they like Ratt from their friends will be immediately obliterated by the huge backing vocals of “CRUSH! THE FALSE!”. (I like Ratt, but the point stands; this song is not for the weak-hearted). This track features another dazzling display of guitar work, as Infiltrator’s guitarist runs up and down the fretboard with ease. Though there is one lead in this song that is somewhat reminiscent of a lead from a Megadeth song (“Sudden Death”) it feels more like a coincidence than anything else.
The remaining two songs on the EP are also enjoyable, though they don’t live up to the incredibly high standard set by the first two. “Sacrifice” is a cover of the classic Bathory tune, and though nobody does it quite like Quorthon himself, it is a more than serviceable attempt. “Hordes of Hades (Deathbangers)” is a bit punkier than the other tracks (particularly noticeable in the drum intro), but is ultimately right in line with what the band has done on the rest of this EP. It does however, have one of the most technical riffs on the EP (at about 2 minutes and 15 seconds in). On the whole, “Infiltrator” is an impressive release. The band gives a fresh take on a sound that has been done by many others, and this release definitely leaves the listener wanting more.
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"Crush The False"
4.25/5 or 85%.
Written by Scott