Gargoyle – Furebumi (1990) [Japan]
Absolutely bat-shit crazy, Gargoyle‘s sophomore album, Furebumi, is as ferocious as ever and equally as manic!
This was a band who revelled in throwing everything into the mix and their contorted, constantly-evolving thrash remains a mind-fuck of kaleidoscopic proportions. Predictability was never in Gargoyle’s vocabulary and their seamless meshing of a multitude of disparate styles (funk, thrash, surf-rock, prog, folk, death, doom, black, speed) is nothing short of astonishing.
Sure, on paper that sounds like a disaster waiting to happen but Gargoyle’s off the wall creativity was tempered by their ability to somehow make this shit work!
Hard to please, die-hard thrashers will get their kicks out of the intense likes of “Execute” and “Halleluyah” while the rest of us will be knocked sideways by the sheer number of maddeningly-conceived ideas on display.
Mandator – Initial Velocity (1988) [Netherlands]
With Initial Velocity, Mandator’s schizophrenic mix of thrash, speed metal and power metal attempted to sate the appetites of all scenes in one sitting, without ever quite hitting the sweet-spot.
With speed metal elements hanging around since their days as Mysto Dysto, encountering the frenzied riffing of “Power Of The Law” comes as no surprise. What is surprising is the likes of “Black Rose” which starts life as a speed metal work-out before a ‘delicate’ AOR passage sends the song into unexpected territory, as it solos its way to a power metal high.
Never quite settling on one style causes consternation but there’s enough quality song writing here to balance out the frustrations, with the feral likes of the Exodus-esque “Faces Of Death” and “Posers” (an apt title, given the Exodus comparison) hitting hard and fast. A whole album of this material may have stood Mandator in better stead but there’s also a lot to be said for the more considered, progressively-minded, likes of “Jack Boots & Leather Caps”.
An oddity, but no less interesting because of it!
Silence – Vision (1991) [USA]
Featuring guitarist Sonny Mayo (ex-Amen, ex-Hed PE, ex-Sevendust, ex-Snot), who went on to be a major player in the 90’s nu metal scene, Silence were actually a formidable thrash force who sadly only released one album; 1991’s Vision.
Accomplished, technical and brutal (bordering on death/thrash at times), Silence were as adept at thrashing hard, fast and with as much precision as the majority of their peers and surely deserved far more than their all but ‘forgotten’ status.
With tempos that shifted on a whim, the likes of the intricate “Echoes of Damnation” were as adept at getting that head bangin’ as they were at mesmerising you with their labyrinthine peculiarities; none more so than on the progressive epic that is album closer “Necromantic”, a 10 and a half minute magnum opus which subtly, and sometimes not so subtly, traversed the thrash metal spectrum for inspiration
Toxic Shock – Welcome Home…Near Dark (1990) [Germany]
Immeasurably improving on Change From Reality (Toxic Shock’s middling 1988 debut), Welcome Home…Near Dark found the band signing with the ever-expanding Nuclear Blast and considerably improving on their craft in the process!
With a gutter-thrash aesthetic still prevalent, Toxic Shock also embraced a more expansive sound, revealing in a new found technicality that was both rough and ready, ugly and obnoxious and yet still capable of keeping up with the prog/tech heavy output of much of their peers. Revelling in the beauty of brutality, moments on the title track were death metal in nature but it was the thundering “Dragons Eye (The Story Part I)” that, ironically, caught the eye….traversing a myriad of time changes and attitudes over 6 thrilling minutes.
If you consider yourself an old-school thrasher and you haven’t heard Welcome Home…Near Dark, you’re in dire need of an education!
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