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It’s hardly normal for a thrash band to start an album with 85 seconds of arpeggio plucking coming through a phaser, but then Insect Politics is hardly the usual thrash album. Deathblow combine punk, death, and hardcore and each element takes turns to attack with frantically fast riffs, slow and meditative plucking, and drumming to headbang along to, all punctuated with scruffy solos and frenzied yelps. It’s raw without being shabby, fun without being silly, and tongue-in-cheek without being (too) corny. It’s difficult to work out the band’s intentions, though – do they refuse to take themselves too seriously in an effort to pre-empt the trolling? Or are they here for their love of making lightweight thrash?
This is a fun record, but one with little to get too excited over – the riffs are deftly composed and rasp with insistent speed, but lack the fullness and dominance served up by the meaty bass and nourishing percussion. Occasionally, the guitars clash whilst vying for similar frequencies and often get pushed aside by the slightly forceful vocal mix, but still manage to do a solid job of carrying melody. Panning is something of a lost art in a lot of metal genres, so it’s nice to hear the guitars take up one ear at a time, giving the vocals and rhythm section room to breathe, though the occasional reverb and delay effects on the vocals are at odds with the bass’ dry bubbling and the graceful abrasion of the guitars.
This is thrash with enough variation to not be a cut-and-paste copy of releases gone by, and though the thrash market has seen a fairly strong resurgence over the past 15 years, this is by no means a weak addition. An improvement on their last release Demolition Deployment in some areas but weaker in others, this album is almost the one you wanted it to be from the Utah quartet.
Release date: December 23, 2020
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