Upon first discovering Harlott with their debut several years ago, it was clear that this band was something special. Two records later, they remain the most relevant and interesting thrash band from Australia in decades. “Extinction” picks up where “Proliferation” left off, as the band has not changed their approach at all. Harlott’s sound is not exactly novel: they take the energy and rage of Slayer’s most hate-fueled moments, and discard anything slow. Even the band’s “mid-paced” sections feature a flurry of notes that will send all amateur guitarists running for the hills.
“Extinction” leaves no room for breathing. Songs like “Violent Conspirator”, “Final Weapon”, and especially “Conflict Revelation” show Harlott hitting obscene tempos. The rhythm playing on this record is second to none, as the band seamlessly switches between palm-muted downpicked riffs and even speedier tremolo-picking sections. Even more impressive, however, is the drumming. A track like “First World Solutions” show absolute mastery of double bass playing, and every song features the classic thrash beat unleashed at absurd tempos.
One would think that this focus on speed results in a complete loss of anything memorable, and while Harlott does occasionally have a track that feels forgettable, they’re actually very adept at writing hooks. The aforementioned “First World Solutions” is the clear highlight, with its groovy verse riff and catchy chorus. “The Penitent” is another more memorable effort, showing that Harlott’s worship of Slayer extends beyond just speed and into eerie melodic leads. The song even later utilizes some Iron Maiden-esque harmonized leads. This would be an excellent path for Harlott to explore more thoroughly in the future, as it could prevent things from blending together on a slightly lengthy record.
The band clearly picked their singles well, but there isn’t anything subpar on this record. If you’re a speed freak, you’re going to be happy with “Extinction”. The album doesn’t have too much more to offer than the sheer novelty of the speed (aside from the more adventurous epic "And Darkness Brings The Light"), but Harlott pulls this sound off more tastefully than a band like Fastkill. Chances are though, if you are still seeking out new thrash metal bands in 2017, speed is enough to satisfy, and this makes “Extinction” a top-tier listen!
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"First World Solutions"
4.4/5 or 88%.
Written by Scott