The obvious way to kick start this beast of a review is blatant as all heck, but since I won’t go outta my way to repeat the info all across the board, and I intend on treating the analysis the same way I always do with any kind of a band, be it a super group or a big ass corporation or an underground indie and obscure bunch, I’ll say it right out the gate: this lineup is astonishing. It does secure the vast majority of those tunes as instant and very layered face melters that really tell a ton about the yonks and yonks of experience behind each of the dudes in this gang. This ain’t just modern thrash; it’s also progressive metal with a melodic touch. Those two genres mesh in quite the stunning painting here with interesting shades of experimentation and a generally ballsy attitude, and it’s a daunting task to come across two tracks that sound the exact fucking same, and I gotta say I love that in a thrash band. The ability to make each track stand on its own merit when there’s twelve of them; it makes an album worthwhile and the type of disc you need to hear from front to back. It was definitely concocted for the old school type of listening session; you don’t come to this on iTunes grabbing only a few nuggets from the box; you blast a goddamned vinyl and actually watch it spin for the whole length of the record.

Gene Hoglan handles the drumming here (guy’s been having a particularly busy summer; he’s the type of cat that takes a few hours to learn a new tune, which makes me less than surprised he’s been having his hands full), Chris Valagao (from Zimmers Hole, that I never learned to appreciate much, but am now tempted to look more deeply into) makes one hell of an impression going through all the possible metal vocal ranges known to man, Steve DiGiorgio sports his genius basswork proudly, especially around the end of the album, and last but not least, Ralph Santolla, (Obituary, Deicide) & Ilias handle the guitar duty. The latter didn’t satisfy me at each and every turn of the album, especially the lead section – but I gotta admit those two work their asses off to improve their attack from song to song. A clear improvement is noticeable as each number goes, and the end round-up is particularly stampede.

”Nations on Fire” starts off with contemplative string work that got me thinking of modern MAIDEN, as it seems impossible of late to start a modern thrash record without the obvious nod to NWOBHM. Still, in this case, it’s only a slight acknowledgement, as the track morphs into more of an aggressive ordeal pronto. The high range vocal from Chris’ end is very uplifting. The lead section is calculating and incredibly engrossing. The galloping drumwork keeps on getting punchier as it goes without encountering any sort of a problem. The riffage also happens to have plenty of bite. The first verse sounds more like modern, unclassifiable metal than anything I could’ve possibly expected after this type of intro. The chorus is powerful, the vocal enhancing that quality in a striking way. The riffage in that one section is touch-and-go, but the licks are fucking magnificent. Actually, I’d say the focus is mostly on those in the case of this track. At 3.50, there’s a bit of a useless proggier section that over-recycles one lame riff right into oblivion, but the solo following this is wondrous, even with the rhythm guitar background being weak at best. Still, overall, this is a catchy tune, and the tiny letdown smack in the middle does little to ruin it. ”Where Hate Lies” has this pounds-heavy intro, which seems to be the general line of thought every time a tune comes in from that moment and on. The riffs are easy, but on the dial. The feel is old school and particularly filthy, with a pretty damn good chorus. There’s nothing complex about this track at all, but it rocks fucking hard. It also has an interesting section at 1.53 that houses some state-of-the-art thunder from Gene’s end and a progressive solo that, whilst being a tad linear, still showcases blinding skill that’s gonna satisfy most geeks among us. The melodies we have here also nail it; those guys really fly high above the lot in that department. They especially shine when they go all-out with the original turn-arounds. Direct proof would be that this song starts off as an Overkill -worship circle, and ends as a progressive, and massively stompier affair. ”The Break” goes to support the statement that this vocalist got seriously overlooked by my good self the last couple years. He’s a fucking phenomena. The huge drum sound gets vastly abused in this tune and that’s all well and good; it’s more of a progressive and slicing number, tagging along with the general idea of the end of the previous cut. The attack has plenty of meat on those bones. It’s suspenseful and hooky, with a chorus that will bite you on the ass all across the board. ”Circle”, though, as the title underlines it, chases its own tail. It offers a whirlwind of an intro with a fucking TON of layers to boot, with a very frenetic first verse laying on a bit of a repetitive riff. The transition to the chorus is smooth, but the lead is following the vocal throughout, and the latter happens to sound pretty damn tired on this one. The solo sounds very off too. By 2.03, everything is on nosedive-mode. There’s a tiny groovier section around 2.29 boosted by an energetic enough signature Hoglan delivery, but I’m still floored by how weak the rest of the song panned out.

”Misery” starts with this hooky main riff that seems to place all of its bets on groove. The intro is a nifty build-up. The first verse is crap though; it seems to attempt semi-melody on a timidly thrashy roll. 1.21 seems to gain more direction as the return of the main groovy riff backs up the melodic vocal real well. The chorus is heartfelt and a hook in itself. It’s really simple, but also works fine. By the time the second verse hits though, if it wasn’t for the kickass drumming switching techniques and being this crushing, there wouldn’t be much of an interest nugget anywhere. The rhythm guitars are too boxed up in absolutely all sections, and the vocal is tired. The chorus is the best thing around these parts. It forges one solid maze of melodies. 3.18 is more or less of a tight section. It only truly goes for something at 3.43 as the solo bleeds more than its usual, regardless of being half-buried in the mix. ”Rules of Engagement” promptly goes into a kickass hyperspeed fit with powerful drums and a swirly rhythm section. The vocal approach reminds me of Mustaine here. The chorus, on the other hand, is more like solo Halford material. It’s powerful, hooky, and full of ‘tude. The drumming is punchy with a whole lotta timeous technique switches. It also seems the rhythm guitars do more elaborate yard work here. 2.05 is a badass section with razor-sharp riffs. The soloing also sounds good in this setting. 2.44 brings up yet another solo that sounds fucking badass this time, mainly thanks to the background elements being completely fucking ape. The vocal goes towards the Ronnie feel by the end. The switches between song patterns are truly original and this whole track didn’t stop flourishing ’til the last note hit. By now, I’m pretty goddamned impressed.

The Overkill-type vocal is back on board in ”Death Shop”, which is a very typical thrash attack. There’s plenty of urgency to the riffage; it’s truly dirty and speedy and focused. The drumming is linear though, but it still does its bulk of work to make this a huge-sounding track. The leads are barely original though.The chorus is groovy, nasty, and also happens to bite. 2.26 is an ace section housing a particularly solid drum gallop, and the soloing strives to go in all directions, and there’s a hell of an organic quality to that practice.”Destiny Found” starts on a mighty nice melody which eventually goes into a stampede drumming section atop a groovy riff.It’s all quick to kick into one highly thrash gear. The first verse is yet again in the Overkill branch with it’s lot of accessible riffage. 1.19 is definitely an interesting twist in things. It’s smoothly melodic, but seems mis-proportioned production-wise, which is the major kicker of a problem in this one tune. It ruins practically the whole thing except the verses, in which the sound is oddly more stable. Anyhow, 1.39 comes up with dyzzing licks for a nice touch. The bass sound, on the flipside, is way too muffled and misplaced in the mix. I’d even go as far as saying that all the instruments sound too damned separated; like none of them are in the same building.

”A New Era” doesn’t have that problem at all, for no reason at all, but I’m friggin’ relieved. This chaotic intro has an unmistakable Strapping Young Lad ring to it. 0.37 suggests a cool buildup, chock full of slightly progressive riffage and drumming. It all quickly goes into the coolest groove-riffs. 1.10 sounds like an old school Metallica type of build. There’s some very epic switches between patterns; I’d even say this is transcendental from front to back. At 2.07. kickass basswork dives into a heavier and crunchier section with soloing going atop which simply sounds out of control in the best imaginable way. No doubt, those cats nail the instrumental cuts perfect. ”Power Out” has the coolest (and tightest) fucking groove in the rhythm section dueling with a mint series of doodlings from the low-end. The vocal delivery is nice n’ raspy, over some neat semi prog-thrash riffs. There’s a neat drum gallop going on over a very old school main riff afterward. Actually, this whole track works as a linear buildup; there’s no sign of a chorus anywhere. It all seems to keep on increasing in terms of anger though, and the riffs never lose their focus. Even the licks are state of the art. At 2.54, the riffs lose some impact, although that’s short-lived and the solo is thankfully fine. The return of the main song pattern is bombastic enough to make that a minor, forgettable flaw. ”Scratching the Surface (5th Hour)” is hooky, groovy, and fucking spot-on. It bets on its main horses (essentially comprised of a smooth transition between a top-class melodic section, a heavy as hell chorus, and a steamroller of punches courtesy of Sir Gene). It also happens to introduce parts that are as progressive and technical as ever, and Steve’s bass work gets a well-deserved greenlight here. He definitely should’ve been more audible from the start. The soloing flies its own plane now too, switching between enough techniques to stay entertaining. ”Methods of the Past” is Gene’s moment without a doubt, as he takes over the whole thing in an apocalyptic manner that closes the album the exact way it should.

There’s so much going on in each of those tracks, it’s pretty goddamned fitting to call this band a super group. They sure as hell brought out a super album. There’s too many details to mention to possibly write a review short enough to pop up on a site, so I’ll wrap this by stating the obvious: goddamn it, if you wanna do yourself a favor, pop the champagne and let this one come alive.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Noch
January 14th, 2013


  1. Commented by: Stiffy

    Jesus your reviews are long

  2. Commented by: Juan Manuel Pinto

    Love this quote:

    “you blast a goddamned vinyl and actually watch it spin for the whole length of the record”

    Because I used to do that…

  3. Commented by: Ben

    There is certainly some great stuff on this album but given the pedigree of the guitarists I’m extremely disappointed…some of the worst solos I’ve ever heard in over 25 years of metal worship. What a shame. The guest spots are great, though.

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