Sunday, February 28, 2016

Game Over – Crimes Against Reality

In terms of sheer quantity, few countries can match Italy’s thrash output over the last few years. For this reason, it is always impressive when one band stands atop the crowd. Since hearing Game Over’s first record, “For Humanity”, a few years ago, it became quite clear to me that this was the band to beat in Italy. While I haven’t had any luck acquiring a copy of their second album yet, they’ve already followed it up with a new record entitled “Crimes Against Reality”. This album shows the band taking a significant step forward in terms of both musical quality and maturity. There are a few songs that are classic Game Over: opening thrashers “33 Park Street” and “Neon Maniacs” deliver the band’s classic, straight-ahead thrash style. Both songs make extensive use of gang vocals, and the latter track also gets a bit punky at times.

While these first two songs might make you think it’s business as usual for Game Over, the rest of the record shows the band exploring new territory. “With All That Is Left” is the prototypical thrash ballad: it starts out much softer and gradually builds throughout the song, culminating in some epic leads and shredding at the end. The most interesting part of this song, however, is that it shows that bassist/lead vocalist Reno has a really good set of pipes. He offers an impressive range, and the ability to sustain notes much better than he has ever needed to in the band’s more typical thrash approach.

Not to be left out amongst the growing trend of sci-fi themed thrash, a song like “Astral Matter” is Game Over’s effort at getting a bit more technical and varied in their work. The track is succeeds in being more atmospheric in its approach by letting notes ring out on the guitars, creating a fuller sound. It also helps that this song features the most impressive bass playing, another common trait of more tech-orietned thrash bands. One would expect the title track to be similarly ambitious given its 7+ minute runtime, but surprisingly, “Crimes Against Reality” is just a really well written thrasher. It is more catchy than it is epic, but it's effective nonetheless.

Another song of note is “Fugue In D Minor”. Clocking in at 47 seconds, this track is really two shorter songs: one wicked crossover thrash tune where Game Over tells you about the fugue that they wrote, and then the fugue itself. This is an example of what makes thrash so great: even on a record where Game Over appears more inspired and serious, they manage to include a song that keeps things fun and light-hearted. After all, thrashers are mostly kids at heart, and this song proves it. 

Crimes Against Reality” shows an already impressive band taking a major leap forward. The songwriting is both adventurous and unique. Each musician shows off to the best of their capabilities without letting it ruin the flow of the music, and the production is similarly on point. There are moments of experimentation and moments of conservatism, with each being equally effective. The second half of the album is perhaps a bit weaker than the first, but that’s only because things kick off with 5 of Game Over’s best songs in a row (subsequent to the intro). On the whole, “Crimes Against Reality” is a defining record in Italian thrash. There is no doubt that decades from now, this will be considered one of the highlights of the entire scene!

Be sure to check out and like Game Over on Facebook!

"Neon Maniacs"
"With All That Is Left"
"Astral Matter"
"Crimes Against Reality"

Final Rating
4.7/5 or 94%. 

Written by Scott

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Frenzy – Lethal Protector

Frenzy is a Spanish heavy metal 5-piece group with a unique slant: they love comic books and it shows in their lyrical themes and imagery. Self-dubbing their music “frenetic metal” is pretty accurate because this is some charged-up, often high-speed heavy metal. As you might imagine, all of these elements mean that “Lethal Protector” is just a lot of fun. Not taking itself too seriously, this is an EP filled with wicked gang vocals (see the title track and “Change To Green” for the best examples), fantastic guitar work, a competent rhythm section, and a singer who is up there with the best of them.

The band’s vocalist is probably the true draw to their music. To sum him up in a word, he’s charismatic. Put simply, his voice has a very unique energy to it that is easy to latch on to. If wailers like Jackie Slaughter (Skull Fist) and Olof Wilkstrand (Enforcer) are among your favourites, Frenzy’s Anthony Stephen is going to appeal to you. He has a bit more grit in his approach and less of a tendency to aim for the highest notes in human history, but it works. 

The songs on “Lethal Protector” are all fantastic. There’s a Racer X cover, but you wouldn’t even know it because the other 4 songs deliver similar, high-quality heavy metal. “Ride To Be Free” is a pure speed metal anthem, while “Change to Green” and “Sin City Calls” are not quite as speedy, but still upbeat. Both have choruses that show the versatility and skill of Anthony Stephen’s vocal approach. And then there’s the title track, which is quite likely the catchiest song on a very memorable record. There isn’t too much more to say about this EP because it takes a relatively established formula and executes it flawlessly. It’s difficult to see a situation where a heavy metal fan does not find something to love about “Lethal Protector”.

Be sure to check out and like Frenzy on Facebook!

"Lethal Protector"
"Change To Green"

Final Rating
4.5/5 or 90%. 

Written by Scott

Friday, February 26, 2016

Absolution – Temptations of the Flesh

Absolution is a death metal band from the UK was first formed in the early 90s. The band initially lasted for a single demo and just a few years, but recently reformed to continue unleashing pure death. “Temptations of the Flesh” is their new EP, released in 2015, and is 3 tracks of uncompromising, insanely heavy death metal. Though this EP tends not to reinvent the wheel, it is competently written and performed. In particular, the vocals of Neil Hadden are the highlight because they’re a throwback to the great Kam Lee of Massacre. His growls are inhumanly deep, but still very understandable – a wicked combination.

The musical approach is predictable: detuned guitars playing monstrous-sounding chords, occasionally switching to more upbeat tremolo-picked riffs. The band utilizes samples throughout all three tracks, but otherwise, they waste little time before bringing the devastation. There’s actually quite a bit of mid-paced work on this record, which often sets the scene for the guitar solos. The lead playing itself is certainly more melodic and coherent in nature than some death metal bands.

From a production standpoint, “Temptations of the Flesh” is convincing in sounding like it was recorded in the early 90s. Though it sounds good, it isn’t quite as perfect as many modern bands. The result is that each instrument has room to breathe, and the low end doesn’t entirely claim the band’s entire sound. 

All three songs are enjoyable, but none stand out in a particularly distinctive way. Granted that this is death metal, that likely isn’t your primary concern. For that reason, while “Temptations of the Flesh” isn’t the most unique EP around, it is still worth hearing. In particular, fans of some of the really early death metal bands like Death and Massacre will find a lot to enjoy on this album!

Be sure to check out and like Absolution on Facebook!

All of it

Final Rating
3.5/5 or 70%. 

Written by Scott