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giovedì 20 marzo 2014

Shrapnel - The Virus Conspires

#FOR FANS OF: Modern Thrash, Blood Tsunami, Demonica
With all the hoopla over the retro-sounding thrash acts coming out nowadays, sometimes it’s nice to be able to just sit down with an act that doesn’t try to ape the sound of 1986-era thrash. The UK-based act bearing the name Shrapnel is part of this movement with perhaps no denying the fact that there’s more than enough acts reminiscent of that time period, it’s about the here-and-now in terms of thrash, and the intensity bristling through these eleven tracks certainly bears that attitude with absolute precision. Armed with a slew of vicious, intense riffing that bear the tell-tale stamp of modernity through their crystal-clear production, thumping omnipresent bass-lines, triggered patterns and technical precision rather than the more loose and energetic thrash of the glory days which seems somewhat inspired through Metalcore, as well as doing so through the vocals which feature the hoarse screaming/shouting tactic employed by such bands. Somewhat surprising for a modern band is the ability to dip into the melodic realm with their soloing to offer up a much-needed sense of relief from the storming chaos outside, which is the main goal here with the majority of the songs here content to rattle along at the bristling up-tempo pace they clearly enjoy and offer up plenty of high-speed tunes throughout. The real down-side to this is the fact that the band manages to fall in love with a singular pattern for attack and manages to incorporate that into nearly every track on here, resulting in a decided lack of distinction between the tracks. Drop this anywhere and it’s pretty tough to spot a singular note or pattern to distinguish where you are or what song’s playing for they all tend to sound pretty similar with the band in constant “attack-now” mode which does leave this to grow tired as well when looking for a bit or variety throughout which can also lose some points here. Intro "Kingdom Come" pretty much sets the stage for what to expect here, with barreling drum beats, razor-edged riffing and relentless paces that are forged by the screaming/shouting vocals that undoubtedly sound far more modern than old-school. "Titan" offers up some tripping backing vocals and a stuttering pace to keep things barely contained as the pace threatens to rattle out of control throughout the blistering drumming featured throughout, while the barreling "Brain Dead" offers up some highly melodic solo leads during the intense stages. Ironically, it’s not until the title track where it really starts getting really original with a rather vicious set of riffs sprinkled throughout the raging tempo and manages to strike itself as an album highlight that offers hints that the band might be able to glom onto for future releases for its blend of intensity, technicality and sense of variation within the guitars where it’s not just set to the same pattern throughout. Beyond these, really only "Red Terror" manages to really evoke a response with its barreling performance, tight riffing and pounding drumming working along a rather stylish pattern, even though "The Watchers," "Pseudocommando" and "Poison the Mind" all have the markings of being vicious, energetic thrashers. It’s all just too similar to each other to really stand-out, even though it’s pretty clear the band is good at this form of intense thrash and that youthful exhurberance makes for a few extra points. (Don Anelli)

(Candlelight Records - 2014)
Score: 75