10/04/12 || Habakuk
And here we go again! Did you think I’d run out of old school albums to review? You probably didn’t bother much, but just to make it clear: I haven’t. I just keep finding “new” stuff that I’m baffled to have never heard before although it falls right into the greatest of metal times and actually stands right next to the well-known stuff. This here I found by watching a Demolition Hammer live video, where the singer namedrops them alongside Malevolent Creation as one of the bands that are to follow their own gig in his attempt to soothe a rampaging horde of thrashers beating each other up. Well, if Demolition Hammer opens up for you, your band can’t be half bad, can it? Correct.
9. The songwriting on “Idolatry”, the band’s third and last full-length, reeks of thrashy goodness. It’s got all elements that made the genre what it is (was?), the climatic buildups (“Deliver the suffering”, “Forsaken Hatred”), the frantic speed outbursts, groove where needed, an at times sinister vibe, and an atmosphere of non-stop audio violence. This is transported through an endless string of quality riffs with great accentuations and blunt beatdown parts, where a few directly drum hit supported notes at the end of a riff just hammer it into your brain for good. The tempo is varied enough to keep things interesting, but still make the changes feel natural and never forced. And while the song structures are not especially complex, they are not as transparent as to let you go “ah, here goes the verse again”, either. In short: No complaints,High-class writing for 44 minutes straight.
7. Scott Burns, Morrisound. Need you know more? Probably not. A pretty standard job of his. From today’s perspective it’s a somewhat quiet, but overall ripping mix with balanced instruments, a little muffled but still okay kick drums, and that’s that. It doesn’t kick an especially high amount of ass, but if you crank it up a bit, it’ll do just fine. The tone and mixdown of all instruments leaves nothing to be desired.
9. Just like I expect from a thrash album, this one is filled to the brim with killer riffing. Such as the simple but awesome, chromatically lowering, shredding main riff of the opener, “Deliver the suffering” – this is how you write a great verse. It’s clear that the guys have studied their Dark Angel well, as the tone and at times sudden (but great) transitions from one riff to another could as well be taken off “Darkness descends”. Sure, not every riff is stellar, but with an estimated three digit number of them, that is more than forgiven. Especially if none of them sticks out as weak. The workings and connection of palm-muted / open playing are no secret to the guys either, so what we have here in a nutshell is top notch thrash guitar playing. It actually has quite the Sepultura feel to it at times too, for example when turning a slow, dissonant open note progression into a split of descending power chords on guitar one with a faster lead section on guitar two (“Souls of sacrifice”, 2:00). Big, big Cavalera/Kisser vibes, right there.
8.5. Just think of Dark Angel without the annoying high shrieks or any of the out there “melodic” parts that kill “Time does not heeeyaaal” for many inclined metalheads. It’s real similar in terms of tone, raspiness and intelligibility. Rodney Dunsmore just has this pissed-off tone that any thrash album would profit from. His vocals fit a thrash album like a glove and are definitely a quality element of the whole thing, despite a timing where he often doesn’t slavishly keep to the instrument base. Somehow that actually works in favor of the album’s sometimes frantic feel.
6. Okay, assuming this is the first early nineties death/thrash review you read. Let’s cover it step by step:
Question 1 is: Is the bass audible?
Answer: Yes, from time to time.
Question 2: Does it follow the guitars?
All other questions
While it sometimes help to ask these questions about life in general (Is the bass audible in my life?), note that this catalogue does not apply here, until all answers have been adjusted to read “Bolt Thrower.”
8. An absolutely flawless performance behind the kit from David Lozano: groove, speed, stamina, precision. Some fine double-bass strewn in, and the guy knows how to thrash engagingly. It’s really good, no doubt about it. If you want to look for things to criticize, then it might be the lack of a distinct personality or “signature” – You’ve heard these moves before, mostly if you know Igor Cavalera’s work in Sepultura. Examples are, well, the proficient double-bass thrashing in general, and little signs like the tom tuning, but also singular elements like the tom playing in “Souls of sacrifice” (2:00 – we had that part referenced earlier. It’s Sepultura through and through), or the off-beat china pattern from the Brazilian’s “Subtraction” mirrored in “Subconscious” (1:57). Whatever though, they’re good moves. I’d rather have someone copy (and master) Igor’s style than someone failing to imitate a semi-talented octopus.
7. That’s a 7 score if there ever was one. Solid shit, but nothing new. The lyrics deal with religion, psychological struggles (“time can’t heal emotional scars”, does ring a bell, doesn’t it?), there also is a song that’s describing drug addiction from the perspective of the narcotic. “Come crawling faster, obey your mast…” oh wait, that was the wrong one. So while there is nothing wrong at all with the lyrics, it is very visible that the lyricist at hand was strongly influenced by what was already around, instead of raising any standards himself. Sure, some of it may be coincidence, but the sheer number of lines (“slave of pain”, “souls of black”, “twisted into form”) that should be put into quotation marks make the difference.
5. Sorry, the skull throne has been occupied by Beneath the Remains since 1989. Doesn’t help to blindfold your specimen, the surroundings are still fucken ugly. The various religious symbols (plus the sword…whoa, intriguing symbolism!!) on the “hieroglyphs” outline go well with the “Idolatry” title, but couldn’t you have made it good-looking? Like the skull itself maybe? Or in some way connected to the rest? No? Oh, I see.
6. I think we can file this under “generic death or thrash metal logo of the late 80s / early 90s”. Pointy letters that are a little too hard to read from afar, still sketchy enough to look decent on a t-shirt print. In the end there’s nothing really special about it.
n/a. Work in progress.
Overall and ending rant
So we’ve read how good this is. Fine, but why did these guys never make it big then? I guess that’s only fair, since they were not exactly inventive, quite the contrary. Everything about this record can be described precisely by referencing other, more well-known acts. Boo, rip-offs! Well, doesn’t it defy the purpose of the Class6(66) format to include these guys, then? No, except if you consider a pure mark of metal honor, which I don’t. It’s a sign of excellence first and foremost, and this is an album you should definitely check out due to its quality alone, which stands up to that of the “big ones” perfectly. It’s not an influential album, it’s more of a “receptor” itself. In that, it actually fills the gap between the real originators, with some improvements even. How many metalheads you know have been put off by the irritating vocals on “Time does not heal”? Well, to them this is especially highly recommended. If you however have never heard the bands/albums referenced, you’d be better off checking them out first (they’re much easier to find anyway) and then get this if you like them.
- Released: 1991
- Label: Combat Records
- Website: Devastation MySpace
- Rodney Dunsmore: vocals
- Dave Burk: guitars
- Henry Elizondo: guitars
- Edward Vasquez: bass
- David Lozano: drums
- 01. Deliver the suffering
- 02. Freewill
- 03. Forsaken hatred
- 04. Souls of sacrifice
- 05. Idolatry
- 06. Legacy of faith
- 07. Subconscious
- 08. Never believe