Distillator hails from the Netherlands and plays a straight-ahead brand of thrash metal that is likely to appeal to fans of Bay Area bands. “Summoning The Malicious” marks their second full-length, and is a potent, thrashing effort. Though there is no shortage of bands ripping off groups like Exodus, Metallica, and others from San Francisco, few of them can replicate the brilliant songwriting of those legends. Fortunately, this is where Distillator shines. “Summoning The Malicious” features incredible, memorable hooks, alongside tight riffing. The end result is a satisfying, albeit unoriginal, effort.
Most of the tracks on this release are fairly short, and tend to follow simplistic song structures. The band relies on breakneck riffing, played with a tone that rivals modern Exodus in its crunchiness. This monolithic tone is somehow unleashed by just one man, but this means Distillator’s bass player gets the spotlight on a regular basis. He best shows his skills in “Mechanized Existence”, where he even gets a solo, but has no shortage of solid bass lines throughout the remainder of the album. The real treat, as with any great thrash release, is the quality of the riffs. “Megalomania” has the album’s best such riff, as it takes Running Wild’s “Tortuga Bay”, and essentially turns it into a thrash song. On the title track, the band plays off a truly evil lead to create a darker, more sinister sound than anything else found on the record.
Two slight exceptions to the band’s formula are “Estates of the Realm” and “The King of Kings”. The former track is a mid-paced effort that brings the groove to thrash. While not as effective as a song like Warbringer’s “Remain Violent”, for example, it is most definitely not a watered down track. The razor-sharp guitar tone makes the chugging riffs effective, but the band’s vocalist isn’t quite strong enough to carry a tune like this, as he primarily employs a monotone shout (though all throughout the album, he isn’t afraid to go into a Schmier-styled screech). “The King of Kings” takes things one step further, by instead being a slower, more brooding track. The end result isn’t too bad, but as with all thrash bands, Distillator is best when playing at full speed.
Overall, “Summoning The Malicious” is an upper-tier modern thrash release. Distillator has focused on crafting great songs first, and though they stay in a relatively safe space, they’re playing an already safe subgenre of metal. Compared to their peers, this band exceeds nearly all of the faceless thrash groups of the day, and falls just a tier below gods like Warbringer or Havok.
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"Summoning The Malicious"
4.4/5 or 88%.
Written by Scott