Rev Smrti (Scream Of Death) (Reissue)
posted on 7/2007 By:
It's the early 90's in the Czech Republic; you’re young, full of piss-n-vinegar, and your country’s fresh off nearly half-a-century of rigid Communist rule. Apart from swiping a twelver of Sladký Živost Beer from your pop’s garage, what’s on the top of your list of things to do? Well, if you’re a young Roman Kríbek (bass) and Petr Hošek (guitars), you spend your time tearin’ it up in the woods on the outskirts of town: hotboxing doobies, crankin’ classic Bathory and Kreator, throwing down some original tunes, and eventually piecing it all together as a kick-ass blackened thrash band. Toss in the eventual recruitment of rolling thunder drummer, René “Evil” Kostelník, and you’ve got a band eager and poised to ride the Czech-metal wave already swelling thanks to the aboriginal footsteps set to ground from the likes of Root and Master’s Hammer. Unfortunately, Crux’s short life was moderately unstable for all the typical reasons (no cash, limited distribution, etc.), but the true shiv to the giblets for this venture occurred when both Hošek and Evil jumped ship for the blossoming Root, leaving an angered Roman alone to fend for himself.
Crux’s original line-up produced one highly sought after demo: Rev Smrti (Scream of Death), but following the departure of Hošek and Evil, Roman fought to keep the beast alive by re-recording the original material with some fresh recruits and tacking a couple new tunes on the back end. The resulting demo -- the goofily titled Terrific Warrior -- found Roman leading the band much further from the classic, dirty thrash realm and into a decidedly cleaner, crunchier death-ish domain. This particular compilation, brought to us by Sweden’s incredibly industrious I Hate Records, pulls the Rev Smrti material from the originally master tapes, and also includes a sample from the Terrific Warrior days, along with some interesting renditions of Crux tunes covered by various Hošek side-projects as added bonus tracks.
The classic thrash sound from the band’s early material is unabashedly swaggered during the first three cuts of the disc. “Bells of Return”, “Scream of Death”, and “Demons of Darkness” all feature savory moments implicative of riff-attacks from seminal acts such as Kreator and Sodom, but with a seriously healthy glazing of late 80’s era Bathory material (especially in the vocals) to further kick our teeth down our throats. “Demons of Darkness” also flashes fragments reminiscent of mid/late 90’s day Immortal (again, thanks in a large part to a vocal shift), so fans of black metal’s most painted warriors will also find material worthy of grimacing menacingly to the Heavens to. Track four, “Pinnacles”, is plucked from the Terrific Warrior demo, and one can immediately hear the difference the moment it breaks from the gate; the guitars are crunchier, the mix is heavier, and there’s more of a groove element infused to its core. The follow-up, “The First Key”, heads back to dirtier waters, but this time around the music has a much more epic, sweeping feel with plenty of acoustic layers folded in, immediately bringing to mind Blood Fire Death/Hammerheart material (and as long as I’m parenthetically pointing out vocal shifts, this tune tosses in some delightful Martin Van Drunen-styled death vocals here and there as well). The pre-bonus track portion of the release wraps up with a short, thrashy filler before closing out with the surprisingly pretty, mostly acoustic instrumental, “Awathea”.
The bonus tracks tossed in are a bit hit or miss. The earlier version of “Demons of Darkness” outshines Hošek’s slightly heavier rendition courtesy of his late 90’s project Entrails, but his epic death/doom project Cales does a wonderful interpretation of “The First Key” which sounds even more likely to have been plucked off a Viking era Bathory record. The disc closes out with a slower, cleaner version of “Awathea” before tripping during its grand exit with the goofy, unnecessary 30-second boner, “Farm House”.
Put another notch in the win column for I Hate, Rev Smrti is exactly the kind of material I love to see labels throwing attention and fresh distribution towards. And with the recent resurgence of everything dealing with thrash, this release should definitely find itself on a number of people’s wish list, but especially those with a healthy appetite for the early Czech-metal scene. Recommended.
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