posted on 4/2011 By:
I was quite taken with Assaulter’s debut, Salvation Like Destruction. The band’s gritty black/thrash provided a more-than-adequate stop-gap while I anxiously awaited the next release by Assaulter’s countrymen Destroyer 666. Thus, when Metal Blade made the digital promo for Assaulter’s new release Boundless! available, I leapt at the opportunity to review it. Unfortunately, for reasons I have yet to determine, it has taken weeks for this album to sink in. Which party is to blame for this disconnect, I cannot say. Certainly I have reviewed a shitload of thrash in the two years since the release of the band’s debut, so burnout is a possibility. The blame could, of course lie with Assaulter, but though Boundless! is not really grabbing me like the debut did, I am hard-pressed to find any major flaws. Although I am sure our esteemed readership finds my personal quandary fascinating, I think it might be best for me shelve further contemplation of the matter, and inform said readership of what to expect on Boundless!
For starters, the Assaulter line-up has been revamped and expanded to a trio. Founder, guitarist, bassist and vocalist S. Berserker is joined on Boundless! by erstwhile Razor of Occam drummer Peter Hunt and new lead guitarist T. Hellfinder. While the line-up change is fairly dramatic, with Berserker still holding the reins, the resulting effect on Assaulter’s sound is fairly subtle.
Assaulter and Destroyer 666 still share a strong musical kinship, but on Boundless!, Assaulter has streamlined its sound, and the epic feel of Salvation Like Destruction is less prevalent. With a few notable exceptions, song lengths have been trimmed, resulting in a hard-charging, meat-and-potatoes affair that leans much closer to the thrash side than the black side of things. Even on the album’s one epic-length track, the eight minute and change “The Great Subterfuge”, there is precious little fucking around; the band hits just as hard, only for longer. The pacing of the songs on Boundless! is generally fast, but not frantic. Hunt’s heavy-handed but restrained pounding gives a feeling of inexorable forward motion, but the proceedings never descend into chaos. The songs are unrelenting, but never grating. Melody on Boundless!, however, is not entirely forsaken: Hellfinder proves his worth with tasteful injections of nimble, thematic soloing and the occasional harmonized passage.
One notable positive change on Boundless! is the quality of the production, which seemed to be a sticking point for many on Salvation Like Destruction. I enjoyed that album’s raw, ragged sound, but I have to admit that the music did seem to get a bit clogged on its way out of the speakers. I am happy to report that Boundless! is a much clearer sounding record, but not so polished as to dull the music’s edge.
I think my initial difficulty in wrapping my head around Boundless! was due to fact that I was looking for something that was not there. Assaulter is not re-inventing the wheel; they are just straight-up kicking ass, thoroughly and consistently. You can’t really argue with that. If you enjoyed Salvation Like Destruction, Boundless! should hit the spot for you as well -- it just might take a little while. Fans of Destroyer 666 and Ares Kindgom would also be well served to give Boundless! a listen.
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