Aggravator
Unseen Repulsions EP

Maybe it’s just me. I mean I was listening to a lot of old German thrash, the usual culprits, Sodom, Kreator, and Destruction, at the time of my reviewing Aggravator‘s new EP, Unseen Repulsions, but I’ll be damned if I don’t hear a marked increase of Teutonic influence in Aggravator‘s sound of late. When I reviewed their previous effort, their self titled EP from 2019, I threw out names of influence like Death, Slayer, Atheist, Pestilence, Sadus, and Devastation, and while I wouldn’t necessarily hesitate to mention those exact bands when discussing Aggravator 2021, I wouldn’t say that Unseen Repulsions has the same vibes. Not that the new material is far removed or such from previous efforts, but to my ears the more Atheist-ic flairs have been replaced with a Kreator aplomb bomb of thrash-tastical glory.

Title track, Unseen Repulsions wastes little time in setting the mood and pace of things to come. Ripping, speedy, deathly thrash that’s in your face and even throwing a quick Rick Rozz/Allen West flavored lead blast at you within the track’s first fifteen seconds. Nice! Like an early Death and Kreator mix, the songs takes a slight tempo shift into some catchy ass thrashings around the half way point. A little Slayer-y, a little Death-y, and a lot of awesomeness, with a nice tasty little solo to boot. The song eventually falls back into the speedy thrash set up in the beginning before calling it quits. Admittedly, nothing  amazingly mind-blowing, but a damn fine opener and thrasher regardless.

Uptempo Pestilence flavored death thrash makes up the majority of follow up “Fragmented Identity” until an appealing and addictive midsection break that again brings to my mind a Death and Kreator ’80’s mash up. Not to mention the fantastic guitar soloing from bassist/ lead guitarist, Tristan Hernandez,ultimately, the track ends in splendid chaotic thrashing beauty. “Searing Gas Decomposition” follows suit though runs a more straight forward path in its thrashing and probably displays the  strongest Kreator-ish vibe of all the material. Again the song structure takes on the ripping beginning and ending with a tempo shift midsection, as well as some stellar lead work. Yeah, some would deem it as formulaic, but you know what they say, “if it ain’t broke…”

Truth be told, you could pretty much use the same description for almost each track on Unseen Repulsions. Like the aforementioned tracks, both “Infinite War” and “Seven Swords” present riff heavy old-school thrash that’s moving and engaging and vibes in that Slayer/Kreator/Death wave mash up,  circa 1988. The former showcasing this attribute in spades, while the latter hits more with a Germanic hammer. Both are rippers and manage to be nostalgic feeling as well as modern and appealing at the same time. I guess it all boils down to that classic sound will never get old, will never die, when it’s done right.

“Bounty Hunter” is one track that did throw me off a bit. Not in any bad way mind you, but I honestly had to triple check to make sure that the track wasn’t a cover song. It’s total ’80’s, but more of a L.A. ’80’s than a Bay Area ’80’s if you know what I mean. It’s fun though, and done pretty well, plus vocalist/guitarist Derek Jones sounds extra vicious amongst the song’s more open/ slighty airy feeling. I like it, yet I do hope they keep this kind of fun regulated to EP’s and such.

I throw out some big names for reference’s sake when talking about Aggravator, but don’t be fooled by my rhetoric. Aggravator may operate in an already long established framework, but they clearly own and command their own identity. When it’s all said and done there isn’t really one thing I can find fault with in Unseen Repulsions. The production, instrumentation, performances, and even the cover art are all aces. It does what it’s supposed to do, and that’s kick your ass, wreck your neck and provide a little bit of fun while it’s all happening. Good stuff plain and simple, and may just end up amongst my favorite EP releases of 2021.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Kristofor Allred
June 25th, 2021

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