posted on 6/2008 By:
Summer is the season to thrash. And for those of us not swayed by the recent surge of copy-cat revival acts overflowing the genre, only a few modern bands, such as Norway’s Audiopain, are really doing anything to add any sort of original, modern touch to the classic thrash formula. Fortunately, for those who scoff at the Bonded By Blood’s and Merciless Death’s of the world, you can now add one more band to that select group of modern thrashers, and that is Belgium’s newest export In Chains. Mixing the brutal groove and neck-ripping intensity of early Sepultura and Kreator with the hardcore punk leanings of Anthrax and a moderate dose of death metal technical flair, Demolition Business is a satisfying offering in a genre plagued with tired 80’s worship and highly derivative songwriting. These guys still take plenty of influence from the thrash bands of yore, but add enough individuality to make their sound fresh and enjoyable, even if there's still a few kinks to be worked out.
For starters, these guys can fucking play. While a lot of older thrash bands had an air of mild sloppiness that often lent to the out-of-control feel of the music, In Chains’ take on the style is razor-sharp and wielded with mechanical precision. Just about every song features a good amount of fairly demanding riffing and some shred-tastic guitar soloing, and drummer Olivier Candeel effortlessly fills in the cracks with loads of double-bass fills and other techy embellishments. The album’s decidedly modern sound is also due in part to the ultra-sleek production, which gives the riffs plenty of clarity and heft but loses a few points in the heaviness factor due to some annoyingly clicky bass drum triggers. The guitars sound great, however, and a careful ear can even pick out the chaotic rumbling of the bass in the background.
On the song side of things, In Chains displays some notable talent at mixing just the right amount of face-stomping groove in with the faster thrash segments, and the riffs themselves are top-dollar. These guys have the gift, no doubt about it, and took the time to write enough riffs to give the songs complexity and staying power--and we know that nothing’s worse than a thrash band skimping out in that regard. Album standout “Snakepit” is a vicious tune that perfectly conjures the ghost of Anthrax with its chunky riffage, hardcore gang shouts, and destructive breakdown passages, while tracks like “Shot At Dawn” earn the Sepultura comparisons mentioned earlier with smooth, frequent tempo changeups and a memorable chorus delivery. The bass intro of “B.U.M.S.” is delightfully unabashed Vio-lence worship, and the onslaught of both mid-paced and speedy riffs that follows would surely make Robb Flynn and the gang proud. The only aspect of the band’s sound that doesn’t really hold up that well are the vocals. Highly reminiscent of Ross Sewage’s higher ranged screams (Impaled, Ghoul), there’s something about the vox that just seems flat and unenergetic. Maybe they’re a little too low in the mix, or maybe the vocalist had a cold or something, but the vocals sound pretty weak overall and do very little to command the listener's attention. The lyrics are fairly eye-roll worthy as well. I know, I know, its thrash, and the lyrics aren’t supposed to matter, but when poetic gems like I’m gonna thrash you down/ I’m gonna fuck you up REAL good surface in the midst of a brutal slow segment, only to be repeated hilariously later on in spoken word form, it definitely reminds you that English is not the native tongue of these fellows.
Lyrical cracks aside, Demolition Business is a promising start for this very young band, and should give thrash fans something nice to sink their teeth into during these hot summer months. The impressive musicianship and crystal clear production will please listeners of the new-school, while those raised on thrash’s elder statesmen should have a great time with the diverse and lethal arsenal of riffs and solos that In Chains provides. Can these guys outstrip the newest horde of Exodus wannabes and become a viable force in the modern thrash scene? Only time will tell.
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