Since their debut record in 2013, Denmark’s Impalers have been alternating between releasing albums and EPs. It is only fitting then, that “The Celestial Dictator” is a full-length record. The band’s growth has been fairly evident throughout the years, as they continue to refine their songwriting craft. “The Celestial Dictator” marks the band’s best effort to date, and shows an interesting, albeit divisive set of sounds. Most of Impalers’ music is pure Kreator worship of the highest order. Think high-speed thrash that relentlessly beats you over the head with its sheer viciousness, accompanied by throat-tearing vocals. Occasionally, the band gets a bit more melodic, particularly with some of the bridge riffs (the one in “Terrestrial Demise” being one excellent example). They also have no shortage of harmonized leads. Even though there is nothing original about this style of thrash, Impalers’ execution is perfect, with tracks like “Terrorborn”, and “Color Me White” being the pinnacle of aggressive thrash. The latter track is the speediest thing on the record, and puts most other thrash bands to shame. It opens with a hilarious high-pitched scream that makes absolute no sense (and thus, is awesome).
“The Celestial Dictator” isn’t quite so one-sided, however. Impalers are evidently big fans of Metallica, amongst others, and so many tracks feature clean vocals and lengthy melodic sections. It’s almost a tale of two records, as tracks are often Kreator worship, or Metallica worship. “Sun” is the clear highlight of this more progressive sound, as it adds some dissonance to the riffing to create unique patterns. The sole flaw of this style (other than it resulting in a truly schizophrenic sounding record, [and not the Sepultura kind of schizophrenia]) is that the clean vocals just aren’t that good. Søren Crawack does his best, but it would take a much stronger singer to really pull off these songs. It’s frustrating because the band does not miss the mark at all musically, but the vocals really detract from the songs. The worst part is that Impalers actually pull off the split-personality perfectly; much better than almost any other band could.
As a result, “The Celestial Dictator” ends up being a record that is still great, but could be so much more. This should have been one of the best thrash albums of the last decade. And in many spots, it does feel that way. But the full picture is still lacking slightly. Even if the band had only gone with their Kreator-esque sound, this would be an instant album of the year candidate. It will still stand out as one of the stronger thrash albums of 2017, but the squandered potential is disappointing.
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"Color Me White"
4.5/5 or 90%.