Piedmontese thrashers are back with their sophomore album after a five-year silence. The themes are still of social protest, in particular tyranny and hierarchies to demolish, despair due to a world in constant war, sense of oppression, revenge with no mercy, bigotry, fears, Jesus eschatology, and the approach of death. The line-up has varied only after the recording of this album, with the addition of a second guitarist, which makes us think the band are trying to stay for a long time and undertake a new live activity.
"Us" starts with an acoustic arpeggio (the instrumental "Last Thinking"), followed by the tough real opener, "World Decline", using heavy tight drumming and fast obsessive riffing. The musical and vocal patterns of the song and most of the record often echo Kreator and Slayer, so this can be a treat or a turn-off depending on people's tastes. What cannot be denied is the fact that if an album encourages the owner to rediscover the joys of a long-unlistened, or worse, an almost forgotten Thrash metal collection, then it isn't such a bad thing.
"Black As War" is shorter and all fast except a headbanging break till the tank-like drums reprise the initial assault. So fucking Slayeresque, "Empty Thoughts" reminds of Tom Araya's band in the blastbeat and the guitar solos, and so does "The Ones" offering nothing else than the old Slayer; yet the vocals and the drum rolls are the best of the album and make it irresistible at home or in the car, too. If there'a a characteristic that Homicide Hagridden clearly have, that is the high dose of axe solos and a traditional, easy way of composing sending back to the 80s and early 90s, well depicted in "Slaved from Darkness", while the beautiful "Dimension Zero" represents one of the few exceptions, beginning with an open hopeful riff and followed by tribal drums and then dark structures interlaced with the above-cited riff; the typical Thrash metal onslaught is present, but the whole rifferama and drumwork are at a more complex level here, showing that almost twenty years of existence have taught the Turin bashers some tricks or two on how to be crushing and sophisticated within the same composition; the bass lines are even more intense and I'm sure that this should be the track chosen for a video, if there will ever be one to promote this record. "Ghost Messiah" stands out from the average thanks to glacial threatening clean vocals on a fat drum foundation, till the speed takes over again; I'm absolutely convinced that the solos here included are the top you can find in these ten tracks, therefore my thumbs can't but be up once again.
It seems that the surprises have been kept in the B-side of the album, and that's why "Sign of the Death" weaves an amazing riff in the first part, the most wicked vocals, a dynamic break that Voodoocult wished they had had. Nice is the separation of the bass lines, full of body on one side and the axe solos on the other one, that's another killer song that can't be excluded from the live set list at all!
"Us" proves that the now four-piece deserves a guaranteed spot in the contender list, so add this one to your collection. If you want a little kick in the ass, this is where you will get it.
MARKUS GANZHERRLICH - November 30, 2012