SummaryAdapt and survive
|4.1 (1 votes):|
In order to survive, changing from thrash to death metal seemed like a logical step in the early 90’s, yet Thanatos would split up in the same year that Realm of Ecstasy saw the light of day. Perhaps, then, it did not matter what kind of swansong the band had ended with, or did it?
On the surface, it seems that Thanatos function as your trustworthy old fashioned death metal band at this point. The scratchy guitars tone of Emerging from the Netherworlds (or Netherlands… ha-ha) has been replaced by a resonant guitar tone that makes each riff sound bright and clear, while Stephan Gebedi’s throaty yells have evolved into a growl that comes straight from the belly. Stylistically, you could argue that Thanatos sound rather unoriginal when compared to the adventurous death metal acts that dared to explore unknown territories, but let’s not forget that this era was also marked by bands that did not settle for anything special at all (think of the Dutch Burial, who were basically a mix of early Death and Massacre). It’s just that Thanatos become more creative once they slow down and while plenty of tunes feature noteworthy slower passages, ‘Terminal Breath’ points this out best; with distorted howls that promise the end of times and its apocalyptic guitar work, the result is something along the lines of ‘South of Heaven’, if only it was written by Brutality instead of Slayer.
The rest sounds slightly more ordinary at times, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. With a maniacal rollercoaster of a riff, ‘And Jesus Wept’ almost recalls a simplistic take on early Suffocation, although the guitars manage to ring and slow down with creepy effects. ‘In Praise of Lust’ is a dangerous riff-ride, with a whirlwind of a main motif and some gusto military-like rhythms in between. The title track manages to evoke the same feeling of ‘Terminal breath’, yet occasionally turns into a laboratory thrasher; somewhat reminiscent of Sepultura’s Beneath the Remains and you can bet that it’s another superb tune.
Annoyingly enough, plenty of tracks are plagued by filler riffs and this makes Realm of Ecstasy a bit of a frustrating listen. ‘Mankind’s Rebirth’ starts off with some alarming chugging and while you will encounter a nifty tremolo riff that becomes a sign of relief, none of the riffs in between work leave much of an impression behind. ‘Perpetual Misery’ may start with a slamming riff that demands your attention right away, but quickly starts to lose it once it alternates between some plodding motives that serve little purpose and been-there-done-that faster riffs. ‘Human Combustion’ falls somewhere between the unorthodox sound of early Pestilence and Terrible Certainty-era Kreator, yet becomes a tad too generic once it tries to kick into high gear with its upgraded death metal riffs. It’s a shame, because the puzzling riffs in between are some of the best ones on the record, yet the final result is a bit of a letdown.
Criticism aside, anyone who likes to expand their death metal collection and is already familiar with the classics, could safely pick Realm of Ecstasy up. It’s good for what it is and also marks an improvement over Emerging from the Netherworlds (note: never make the same joke twice).
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