The Empires Of Inhumanity
posted on 7/2010 By:
Formed in 1993 and releasing its first official album in 1999, German thrash act Fatal Embrace is in the unenviable position of being too late for the original thrash party and too early for the rehash. Thus, despite seventeen years of hard thrashing, the band does not benefit from the relaxed quality standards afforded the genre’s hallowed veterans, such as Destruction and Slayer, who can get by on name alone. Simultaneously, Fatal Embrace is far too weathered to get over as some new thrash sensation like Evile or Warbringer. It is a tough row to hoe, but the truth is, Fatal Embrace has to essentially release a Reign in Blood-caliber album to make a mark in today’s overcrowded thrash market. The Empires of Inhumanity is not Reign in Blood-caliber, but it is a solid effort that does no discredit to the fine German thrash tradition.
The "old-school" phrase tends to get over-used (and this writer is as guilty as any), but in the case of Fatal Embrace, it truly applies; the band plays as if the last twenty-five years never happened. Drummer Pulverisator uses only one bass drum; guitarists, Moloch and Spezi, employ no tremolo-picked riffs or sweep arpeggios; and vocalist, Dirk Heiland’s vocals are a gruff bark, with nary a hint of black rasping or death growling. Simply put, The Empires of Inhumanity is as pure a thrash album as you are likely to find these days.
Fatal Embrace does a good job of varying its approach within the limited framework of its chosen style: “Wake the Dead”, “Haunting Metal” and “Rapture for Disaster” are standard high-speed thrashers; “Into Your Face” and “The Prophecy” are primarily mid-paced; and the title track is a somber slow-burner. All the tracks feature more than their fare share of quality riffage, but many of the riffs sound rather familiar. Of course, the thrash-riff well ran dry years ago, so a certain amount of repetition is unavoidable, and in some ways, the familiarity is comforting.
Although the quality on The Empires of Inhumanity is quite consistent, the band saves some of its best material for last. “Ways to Immortality" is a comparatively lengthy (6:33) multifaceted track in the Master of Puppets vein, moving from rapid-fire thrashing to a mellow interlude, climaxing with a glorious dual-guitar solo and then thrashing off into the sunset. Finally, Fatal Embrace displays remarkably good taste in covering the title track to my favorite Iron Maiden album, Killers. You cannot improve on perfection, and Fatal Embrace seems to know this, keeping its rendition so faithful to the original that I bang my head and play air guitar in all the same spots.
The Empires of Inhumanity is a workmanlike effort, and Fatal Embrace’s unadulterated approach to thrash is refreshing. Unfortunately, the band’s songwriting is not quite strong enough to push them into the upper echelon of the genre. However, if you are tired of waiting for a new Sodom record, The Empires of Inhumanity is not a bad way to pass the time.
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