Review: Panic “Rotten Church” [Woodstock Discos]

Review: Panic “Rotten Church” [Woodstock Discos]

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Score 84%
Fiction story
84 %
User Rating : 3.8 (1 votes)

Imagine the following: after writing In the Pandemonium, Tom Warrior decided to take a trip to Brazil and met some members of Mutilator and Vulcano. Mutual respect for each other resulted into several jamming and one thing led to another. Once back home, Tom Warrior realized that Into the Pandemonium would be far too pretentious for its own good and, along with his new friends, decided to focus on Panic instead.

Now, this story is pure fiction, but it really sums up what you could expect from Panic on a surface level. Guitars are undeniably Brazilian in nature; the thrashiest riffs are easily associated with the thrash-styled riffs of Immortal Force, whereas the death metal eruption of Bloody Vengeance serves as a much more extreme side of the record, but it doesn’t just end there. Tremolo driven riffs often rouse onward for a longer amount of time and it certainly proves that we’re not just dealing with an ordinary ratio of thrash and death metal. This also allows the Immortal Force-esque guitars to stand out in a far catchier fashion and that’s a wonderful thing; you’ve basically got the rawness of thrash and the envelope-pushing features of death metal in one package. However, certain elements of Rotten Church are quite un-Brazilian. The vocals are quite unusual and while Regener doesn’t sound as harsh as a young Max Cavalera or Wagner Antichrist, yet I like the Tom Warrior-esque grittiness of his voice either way (besides, it’s nice to hear such a vocal style on a record that’s not necessarily Celtic Frost-inspired from a musical perspective). You’ll also be surprised by the lead guitarist’s style; he’s clearly capable of shredding with fire, but does so with a keen ear of melody that’s more reminiscent of Seven Churches than Morbid Visions.

Dynamically and structurally, Rotten Church mostly relies on some familiar elements that form the core of these compositions; meaning that plenty of them rapidly engage from a blasting drumbeat to an instantly memorable thrash riff and back again. However, that’s not to say that you won’t find any notable variety here. ‘Satan Shall Return’ introduces an intense slab of raw thrashing, but once things get going, almost reaches the breakneck speed mania of Vulcano’s ‘Spirits of Evil’. ‘Empire of Violence’ immediately grabs you by the throat with an infectious galloping rhythm and the title kills it with its Brazilian-styled assault of thrash/death metal, although I’m also fond of the tension that’s evoked circa the slower bits. Even when the death metal elements aren’t prominent, the band is still capable of doing well. Take ‘God’s Death’ for instance, which almost has an early brutal (meaning: pre-Reign in Blood) styled thrash feel to it; bringing to mind Endless Pain with slashing guitar riffs that go for the attack.

Of course, two tracks are quite distinctive from the rest and it’s not hard to imagine why these don’t turn out well. I’ll give Panic props for trying, but ‘Megaforce’ hardly sounds like the epic voyage that I hoped for; as it doesn’t feature enough ideas to make this instrumental ride exciting enough, even if I’m fond of the melodic solos soaring around the hard-hitting rhythm sections. Then there’s ‘F.O.D.’, which sounds like a parody of the Brazilian madness that unfolded in the 80’s. Think of Panic’s version of ‘Ready to Explode’ and you’re not far off; it’s simply too silly for its own and I’d rather stick with the proper songs.

From here, Panic would briefly turn into a proper thrash metal band with their second record, before turning into a groove-driven band with their final record. While the former is good stuff, too (think of something Sepultura should have released after Beneath the Remains), Rotten Church is the real deal. It might be overlooked by other Brazilian albums of its time and it’s not quite a classic either, but if you’re looking for some worthy early death metal, then there’s no reason not to check this out.

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