Worshipping slavishly at the altar of Lord Chuck Schuldiner, Greece’s Menace may be mercilessly channelling the output of Death circa-Spiritual Healing to Symbolic but they do it so damn well that you’ll be far too busy grinnin’ and windmillin’ to care. A progressive death/thrash endeavour that reeks of the late 80s and early 90s, Open Fire doesn’t just have Death vibes, it has Chuck’s influence imprinted all over it.
Fortunately, for Menace and for the listener, these guys are so good at what they do (George Kollias of Nile is behind the kit which speaks volumes for the talent on display here) that any notion of plagiarism becomes swiftly moot.
Crystal clear and technically impressive, the riffs and tempo changes fly at you at a considerable rate – alongside some particularly adventurous bass lines (which draw heavily from Steve DiGiorgo’s time in both Death and Sadus) – meaning this beast is never, ever boring or overly familiar. “Without Morality” and “Eye Of The Storm” may be hyper-speed thrash workouts that leave you gasping for air but it’s the cutting riffage, that’s sharp and precise throughout, and the overall calibre of the musicianship that impresses the most.
The jarring “Existential Slavery” is the only track which threatens to misfire but, even then, Menace reign in their attention-deficit approach with a crescendo that soars amidst a flurry of tech death/thrash intricacy. Menace then go full ‘prog’ on closer “Uncensored Truth” and any naysayers will be eating their words when they get a load of this multi-tentacled behemoth.
With debut album, Cosmic Conspiracy, turning 9 years old in 2023, Menace have obviously taken their time in crafting this sophomore epic…. but it was time well spent. You can’t rush these things. They need time to mature, to grow, and to morph into something that betters all that came before. With Open Fire, Menace have achieved this and then some. While opinion will be split as to whether we even need Open Fire when we already have Death’s back catalogue to fawn over. One thing is for sure, we enjoyed the hell out of Menace’s latest – and enjoyment is all that really matters! 8/10
Menace‘s Open Fire was released on January 7th, 2023 via Razorbleed Productions