|#FOR FANS OF: Death/Thrash, Slayer|
Rodrigues starts off this latest album with an old thrash axiom, when in doubt fill it with more notes. This principle makes “God Says Hate” absolutely beat the listener bloody with cleanly audible and palpable drumming that serves as a barbarous compliment to the quintessentially thrashing guitars. Ripping and tearing from riffing to speedy transitions and drowning the distortion in snapping wrists of quick picks, the notation of “South American Prison” and “Below Salt” truly lend credence to the band's name.
'Trail of Blood' can be summed up in its very crunchy riffs, like chewing a salad of sea glass. As is common in this more thrash influenced classic death metal approach, basic beating gives way to long drawn out groovy riffing without sacrificing the vengeful intensity of the instruments. Solos are used sparingly through the opening half of this album. Rodrigues instead chooses to thicken the atmosphere with lots of sawing guitars that chug and shake to the thrash standard while embracing the brutal atonality in the death metal standard. This comes across well when “Trial by Combat” opens an untouched vein with a traditional guitar before a shrill sound like one of the many screaming goats gracing YouTube. The song then falls into the slow and savage waltz that ends up flowing through to its follow-up, “Burn Everyone”, where small elaborations on higher-pitched tones help to claw out of the maw. These songs show how cohesive and consistent Crushing Axes is throughout this album with a smooth flow and great pacing. At the same time, the majority of this release can get a bit too consistent to really step into greatness as 'Trail of Blood' runs at too steady a step. The album effortlessly flows, but rarely deviates from its prescribed pace.
The three big stand-outs on this album feature guest vocalists and a fierce energy. First comes “In the Path of Death” which features Jairo, whose growling vocals compliment the more Morbid Angel style of this song with drawn out and regurgitating harsh yells that are not too far from those of Rodrigues in the majority of the release. The title track's guest, Glauber, brings a vocal of faster thrashy yelling, some distancing and echoing effects, and sounds straight out of a metalcore band, especially in comparison to Luiz in “Commotio Cordis”. These songs easily stand out on paper and more so when compared to the very basic ending of this album. Through the energy of “In the Path of Death”, the unusual distortion in the solo in “Trail of Blood”, and the commotion of “Commotio Cordis”, there is a good flavor of fresh personalities in these three songs that help the flow of this album and get the music to take a step out of its single-minded confines. The deviation from form works very well to personalize each song and serve as a tight knot to tie together an album which, for the most part, hangs as a straight and unbroken rope.
'Trail of Blood' is a solid album from a clearly experienced and dedicated musician. However, this album suffers from a common complacency found in many bedroom bands and may be the result of Rodrigues demanding too much of himself. Through fifteen releases in less than a decade, Crushing Axes' mastermind shows himself as a tenacious and talented trooper who stands firm without getting discouraged. Still, with simplicity as a stylistic choice, this album does get flat, as in the deliveries of “Deathcult” and “The Spoilers of War”. Though the cradle rocks well enough, the plain path of this all-too-clean production breaks from the bassier proclivities desired in down and dirty death metal. Rodrigues has a great handle on his instruments but he seems to be picking at an ever emptying pit. Though he may not have found his biggest nugget of gold yet, Alexandre Rodrigues is undeterred. Yet he might shine best in continued collaboration where he can show his strengths while tapping further veins of potential through uniting talents. (Five_Nails)