After a full-length last year, along with a slew of demos and other releases recently, California’s Hemotoxin put out an EP in early 2014 that is meant to continue delivering their extreme brand of thrash metal. “Alchemist” is a relatively brief experience; however, it is filled with great riffs, heavy moments, and is ultimately quite solid. There are only three full original tracks here, as the first song is an intro and the last is a Black Sabbath cover.
Things really get going with the title track, which is absolutely vicious. The riffing is more in the technical and progressive vein, and would be right at home with bands like Hexenhaus, Forbidden, or any other number of sideways thinking thrashers. In direct contrast to most bands in this style, Hemotoxin’s vocalist is aggressive beyond belief. Tearing through vocal cords with seemingly no regard for his health (or the listener’s!), he unleashes some screams that walk the line between thrash and death. As you might expect from a more technical band, he isn’t the only exceptionally skilled member of the band. The drumming is both intense and impressive, and even throws in the occasional blast beat (such as on “Incessant Existence”). Both guitarists show the ability to play riffs that compete with any band out there, but also have a fantastic melodic sensibility. Whether it is through harmonized riffs (again on “Incessant Existence”) or just more unique riffs than your standard thrash fanfare, Hemotoxin’s axemen unleash a fury of interesting guitar lines. There isn’t quite as much bass as I’d like to hear, but when it does show up (primarily on "After Forever"), it’s just as solid as the rest of the band.
Aside from the band’s original material, the cover of “After Forever” is interesting. Although Black Sabbath is almost too easy of a target for covers, it’s always fun to hear how bands in completely different styles interpret their music. If the first few tracks didn’t make it clear, Hemotoxin’s singer is no Ozzy Osbourne, but that doesn’t mean he can’t do justice to the song. While not necessarily a highlight of this EP, “After Forever” is the type of cover that EP’s were made for.
One thing I think is worth adding is that the production on this release is really strong, but that fact isn’t always noticeable. I like to test albums on both good and bad quality speakers because you can’t always take higher-quality speakers with you. What became clear is that this release is just a bit too much to handle on substandard sound systems. There is a lot going on during “Alchemist”, and it’s more suited to sound systems with a better range. While the music still stands on its own, this is one release that is much better enjoyed with a better sound system.
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3.9/5 or 78%.
Written by Scott