Happy International Workers’ Day! For those of you who have this day as a holiday, I hope you’ve enjoyed it. For those of us in the UK, we have the bank holiday coming. And here at TSNTW, I’m getting back into the swing of things with a series of short reviews. For this installment, we have world-ending black/death metal; speed-laced black-thrash; a furious feminist statement; a wonderful meeting of progressive technicality and black metal horror; and beautiful modern classical. Enjoy!
Of all the different forms of extreme metal, there is arguably none that captures the raw excitement and energy of music better than black-thrash. A musical manifestation of Venom’s line about “riding hell’s stallions bareback and free”, black-thrash is, at its best, music of unrestrained chaos, tapping in to a raw, primal nature and unleashing it via the medium of savage, lawless metal. Since effectively being given its name by the mighty Aura Noir in 1996 – with debut album Black Thrash Attack – the genre has had a consistently devoted fanbase in the underground, with bands carrying the dark flame that was birthed by the likes of Sodom, Venom, and Sarcófago (pictured above); all done with a wicked grin and blasphemous spirit.
Here, then, are what I feel are five of the best bands of the style; some are veterans, some are young blood keeping the flame burning bright, whilst others are twisting it in to new, exciting forms. Enjoy!
It doesn’t feel like that long ago since I was writing my list for 2016… and yet, at the same time, it feels like a lifetime has passed. 2017 has been a very busy year, and very trying in parts. As a result, I’ve had less time and energy for The Sound Not That Word than at any time before, which has resulted in less reviews being posted. It’s something I’m still not entirely sure how to balance, and may well see my writing take on different forms in the coming year. We shall see.
Anyway. Enough of that for now. Everywhere else is doing lists, and so am I. Writing this is a good opportunity to go over releases from the year, to remember how good some were, and to give coverage to some I never got to write about. As always, these are my favourites – better records may have been released this year, but these are the ones I enjoyed most. The first twenty will be in alphabetical order, over two posts; with the top five given their own ranking. Enjoy!
Label: Label 2318
Sometimes with a split, it’s pretty easy to pick out the common theme between the bands, be it geography, similar styles of music, or shared members. This isn’t really one of those splits, as the bands involved approach black metal in very different ways. Hellripper hail from Aberdeen, Scotland, and place the emphasis very much on the metal in black metal – thrashing, full of speed and blistering solos, not far removed from the core 80s inspiration of Venom and the like. By contrast, USBM act Batsheva are far more black, producing music that is much more unsettling and dark. And yet, given the excellence of the music both one-man bands offer, it works. I don’t know how this split came about, but I’m glad it did.
Label: Self-released (digital) / Hellforced Records (cassette)
Not to put too fine a point on it, but odds are, if you’re in to metal as much as you (probably) claim to be, then you need this in your life. At just shy of ten minutes, The Manifestation Of Evil by one-man band Hellripper rips up all the tropes of one-man black metal bands. Rather than taking us to the tenth sub-level of nocturnal poisoning, Hellripper instead takes us through all the best aspects of blackened thrash and metalpunk, beer in hand, headbanging like a maniac, if you are false don’t entry. In short, it does all those things music like this should do. It’s loud, fast, dirty, and so damned good.