Now, I’m not going to proclaim that all of these albums are the best things you’ll ever wrap your ears around. However, I will say that the energy and passion that Merciless Death put into their music is greater than that which I’ve heard from some of the stalwarts of the industry. These guys come at you with all of the fire and brimstone that the dark and shady places can muster, and all with a slightly under produced vibe. Those rough edges are a good thing. It shows that this band is real and the fun that these young musicians are having shines through the muddied mixes. A slickly produced album wouldn’t come across with the same urgency or intensity, and would be more of a hinderence than a benefit. Realm of Terror captures the classic thrashy doom sounds of bands such as Celtic Frost or Possessed. Heavy and doomy, intensely fast with well timed down shifts, this California based trio bring seem to save their finest moments for the end of the album with tracks like "Tormented Fate" and "Summoning of the Ancient Ones."
"Tormented Fate" is a speed freak with the vocalist channeling his inner Tom G. Warrior (Celtic Frost). For the better part of the tune, we’re being assailed with a up tempo beast. Then suddenly, as if these guys were driving a car and decided to drop the sucker into second gear for more power around a corner, the tempo drops into this mid range thrasher. What should have been a wreck on the other side of the corner turns out be this white knuckle, butt clenching, weaving ride to oblivion. "Summoning the Ancient Ones" will not only get the head bobbing, but the entire body. Opening with a groove riff and then bursting into a massive riff filled speed flurry, the tune captures the lads at, possibly, their finest. After riding the swell of speed, the band returns to the thrashy mid tempo opening riff to close out the tune. Keep an ear tuned into the drums and how they keep tempo through this complex number.
buy here: Realm of Terror
Avenger of Blood, though hailing from Las Vegas, Nevada, has embraced the distinct German thrash sounds of bands like Kreator and Destruction. Full on speed passages that are broken up by jarring tempo changes, growled out shouts of dissatisfaction with the status quo, and nifty guitar work through the solos set these guys apart from the rest of the bunch. Looking at the album art and liner photos, I can’t help but get the sense that I’ve been here before. This stuff takes me back to my high school days when I weighed all of a buck twenty and I, too, cut the sleeves off of my t-shirts to make sure I had that oh-so-special look. Leather pants, bullet belts, and arm spikes finish the ensemble, and amazingly, I’m buying into this bands look. Why? Because the music is full of real time aggression and attitude. Sure it’s all in fitting in with the scene, but it’s done with the right amount of honesty, integrity, and passion that I just can’t help myself.
buy here: Death Brigade
Exmortus – In Hatreds Flames
Rising from the urban sprawl of Whittier, California, Exmortus give us a snapshot of the youthful angst in the metal world. Uber-aggressive death tinged thrash is what you’re gonna’ find on In Hatreds Flames. What sets these guys apart from their Heavy Artillery peers is the somewhat neo-classical approach to guitar solos. Laden down with sweeps and the guitarists hanging on for dear life to their whammy bars, the guitar solos remind me of early Yngwie, just without the pomp. In fact, when The Red Neck Wookie stopped in the Ripple offices, he heard these guys and said, "These guys must like tuning their guitars," in reference to the whammy-rific action going on. Little did he know that Exmortus are made up of supernatural young men who weave a mystical spell over their gear and, therefore, never need to worry about such trivialities.
buy here: In Hatred's Flame
Avenger of Blood