Engines of Oppression
posted on 11/2010 By:
Fallen Angels is yet another in the seemingly endless parade of old-school thrash acts that have been flooding the metal scene these past few years. Although Engines of Oppression is only the band’s second record, Fallen Angels was formed in 2002, so the horse’s corpse was a little fresher when this band began beating it. Furthermore, while Fallen Angels' take on thrash is thoroughly old-school in spirit, the band has a technical edge to its sound and a knack for melody that helps it stand out from the pack.
At its best, Fallen Angels is able to combine the aggression of Dark Angel, the songcraft of Metallica and the masterful musicianship of Coroner to create some superb thrash. However, such a fine blend is difficult for the band to maintain for very long. To its credit, however, even when Fallen Angels strays too far in a particular direction, the results are usually still enjoyable.
Engines of Oppression’s opening track begins in classic thrash fashion with an acoustic intro that is gradually overtaken by thundering power chords before bursting into a Slayer-styled main riff. Initially, there is little to differentiate Fallen Angels’ music from that of any other quality throwback thrash outfit. There are a few moments of flash, and a particularly heroic solo, but all in all, it is pretty standard fare, albeit well-performed. However, the second track, “Forever Burned”, provides the album's first "Holy shit!" moment with a solo that begins oh-so-familiarly, but builds into a veritable symphony layered with what sounds like at least a dozen complementary guitar tracks. As the album progresses, the band continues to color its thrash with melodic and technical embellishments that range from subtle to over-the top. Tracks like “The Veil” and the instrumentals “Remembrance” and “Rebirth” reveal a Metallica-like affinity for tasteful acoustic playing, while “To Dust” is a virtual dog-fight of competing melodies and shredding solos.
Though Fallen Angels’ guitarists have a tendency to venture into some exotic territory, the band’s vocals and drumming keep it rooted in the Eighties: Brad Kennaugh has a thoroughly unspectacular voice that gets the job done with aggression and little else, and Brian Hansen’s drumming is almost puritanical in its no-frills 4/4 pounding. The principal weak point of Engines of Oppression is that Fallen Angels often tip the balance of melody and brutality too far in the melody’s favor. The album’s hectic pacing helps preserve a reasonable level of aggression, but Engines of Oppression would benefit from a greater focus on meatier rhythm playing.
Fallen Angels has some very talented members. Like many talented groups, they sometimes struggle to strike the right balance between showcasing that talent and writing good songs, but Fallen Angels does a better job than most. Engines of Oppression is not going to be the next Master of Puppets, but if you like a little flash in your thrash, it is definitely an album worth checking out.
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