Annihilate....Then Ask!

Holy gargantuan balls of steel, Batman! This is some straight up good shit right here. I  really was not sure what to expect from Holycide and their debut full-length, Annihilate… Then Ask!. Truth be told, I was basically looking for something other than death metal for reviewing purposes  and didn’t anticipate such a blistering and enjoyable thrash attack.

Blistering and enjoyable is what I got though, along with other telling adjective praise, such as tight, furious, skillful, awesome, powerful and obviously, capable and competent. Original though? Not in the slightest. Of course, when we’re talking about a band playing/rooted in the throwback style of ’80’s thrash metal, originality isn’t really an option. The thrash greats have already brought the pain and paved the path. No, originality is now replaced by authenticity; and when the songs are done right and the execution slays, today’s authenticity can (arguably) take the place  of yesterday’s originality. Holycide achieves this authenticity in spades, proving that not being a pioneer in the sound does not make them less potent.

Storming out of the gates with “Afterworld Remnants”, its aggressive thrash mix, both modern and classic in its fury, sets the table for what is to follow; a musical smattering of Eastern and Western hemispheres, of Exodus, OverKill, and Dark Angel working within the might of the Teutonic titans (Sodom, Kreator, & Destruction). Vocally, Dave Rotten (Avulsed), resides in a John Tardy(Obituary)/Kelly Shaefer-esque(Atheist) tone but with that aforementioned Teutonic viscious attack. Rotten’s thick and heavy accent shines through as well, giving the material that somewhat weird and sometimes annoying, but overall, intriguing charm that Vader and Unleashed produce. In fact, a lot of the feeling I get from Rotten reminds me of that Unleashed/Johnny Hedlund type of victorious attitude.

Picking an album highlight is nigh impossible, and even redundant honestly, as every song of Annihilate… Then Ask!‘s ten track affair stands solidly on its own two feet. From  the Anthrax meets Destruction rhythms of the album’s title track, to the intense Vader-ish beatdown of “Motorhead”, or the quick paced pummeling of “Deserve to be Erased, with its impressive drum work and speedy fills, each composition is guilty of offering something worthy of a fist pump or a windmill inducing neck wrecking. The mid-paced stylings of “Bonebreaker” really gets the head moving, with its catchy, tight riffing giving way to speedier territory at the 2:30 mark, with some tasteful fretboard runs adding some great flair. The track flawlessly shifting at the 3:52 mark into darker thrash pastures is superb, even if it is only for a few fleeting moments.

“Leather, Spikes, Chains, and Blood” is a fast, blasty thrasher, reminding me a bit of Exhorder at times. The track has some great dynamic change ups with fantastic soloing and bass work rising up around the 2:10 moment, followed by some well done raspy spoken word and some continued impressive lead work. It’s a pulsing number with a catchy, cheesy chorus and some nice gang shouts to help top things off. Album closer “Back and Forth” continues to bring the pain with devastating drums and Slayer-esque leads kicking things out until a sweet bass line breakdown quickly sets fat riffs and syncopated drums into effect. Deathly vibes take over at the 2:03 mark, complete with blasts and gutturals, shortly giving way to laid back riffing and slower, elegant lead work  pushing the material forward as Rotten continues in his more standard Avulsed death vocals. The track eventually makes its way back to thrash realms, proving that this song is aptly titled, as it indeed goes back and forth from a thrash majority and death minority.

I have to hand it to the guys in Holycide, they’ve crafted a damn good album in Annihilate… Then Ask!, with every member really bringing their A-game when it comes to their individual performances. The drums of Jorge Utrera are furious, yet controlled, capturing the essence of thrash perfectly, and knowing when to give a bit more in the “modern”metal sense as well. Holycide‘s wielders of the strings aren’t any slouches either. Guitarists Miguel Barez and Salva Esteban are tight and accurate, and their lead work is top notch. The album’s solos are plentiful as well as fluid, and at times, technical, though never becoming too flashy or superfluous. Last but not least on the individual front, is bassist Dani Fernandez. His tone and attack is not only aurally reminiscent of D.D. Verni (OverKill), but his presence seems equally important to the concept and construct of Holycide and its material.

Capping things off with a crisp, punchy, crystal clear production (almost a bit too clean and clear), and cover art that recalls some of the classic pieces from thrash’s glory years, and Annihilate… Then Ask! becomes quite a kick ass and even endearing album of blistering thrash metal fun.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Kristofor Allred
May 4th, 2017


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