It is an interesting task to attempt to recreate the past while reaching forward. Really it is the main objective of almost the entire stoner doom genre. But in most other areas, the past tends to fall away with the addition of innovation. On Cursed to the Pyre, Slaughter Messiah bring this theory into thrash metal territory, forging a sound that feels as modern as it does classic.
With a sound conjuring the likes of thrash, speed, death and black metals, Cursed to the Pyre is sure to draw comparisons to Venom and their contemporaries. Not content to sit back on the laurels of the past, Slaughter Messiah work vigorously to add a modern flavor to their work. Utilizing a rough and unpolished recording quality, this album most definitely has a very vintage feel to it. But with quality modern songwriting and blazing talents, Slaughter Messiah are able to stand out from those progenitors of the genre.
Vocals are immediately memorable, in their tone and intensity. Using a harsh thrash metal bark and a demonic screeching black metal technique, they serve the music perfectly. Reaches into higher ranges are not to my taste, but they serve the vintage aesthetic perfectly.
Guitars are classic thrash style, with tastes of modern metal strewn throughout. Solos are plentiful and the galloping riffs simply do not quit. The virtuosity here is quite impressive.
Drums fit the classical thrash standard, with double bass rolls throughout the work and a hard hitting snare. Cymbal work is unique in its subtleties, giving a bit of variety whenever the standard formula begins to feel stale.
Bass I wish I heard more of. It does an admirable job of holding down the bottom end, but for the bass to take center stage in thrash music always creates an enjoyable experience for me. Not at all bad, but could be much better.
Lyrically, this album tends to tackle the standard variations on death, murder and the occult. The inclusion of the heavy themes of witchcraft throughout the album is a delight, adding an air of mysticism to the aggressive attack of the music.
All put together, Slaughter Messiah mild their own blend of sounds to make a very solid thrash album. While not exactly trailblazing, the songwriting does have a modern feel to it that contrasts with the vintage production work and overall atmosphere of the album. Sort of like a cellphone in an old timey photograph.
All in all, Cursed to the Pyre is a solid addition to any thrash metal collection. Play it for an old school purist and see if they can tell the difference. Slaughter Messiah work on several different layers, and I personally think that this album is a keeper.
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