THE VIRUS CONSPIRES
For the last five to ten years, I have been championing the return of thrash metal by a series of new bands. Some have made it and built pretty solid careers (Havok, Municipal Waste), and others have come and gone (what happened to Lazarus AD). That said though, there's be no shortage of bands in the last decade that have returned to the roots of thrash to make authentic and new thrash that have been more than welcome to those of us that live in hope that Exodus and Death Angel can continue their winning ways since coming back. In short, it's been very good to have a gluttony of new bands making this kind of music. Formed in 2009, Shrapnel jumps right into the middle of this fold with THE VIRUS CONSPIRES. This release is 100% a facemelter, seemingly cut out of 1988 and intent to simply destroy everything in it's path. It's technically excellent, sonically crushing and as good a thrasher as anything that's come along in awhile.
On THE VIRUS CONSPIRES, you can't help but be blown away with the level of heaviness and the raw power exhibited by Shrapnel. Songs like "22" just come ripping through the headphones and take your ears off with their blazing fury. Certainly, like most thrash bands, the core to their sound is the guitarwork. Nathan Sadd is a beast on lead guitar, and he's tempered well by the blazing rhythm work of fellow guitarist Chris Martin. These guys have riffs that simply tear through the air when listening to them, and yet their breakdowns are about as effortless as anything you will ever hear. On "22", the tempo transitions to and from hyperspeed are amazing. Sadd's solo roars as well, proving him to be far more than a thrasher. It's some of the coolest guitarwork in this kind of music I've heard in awhile.
That said though, this band is far more than a lot of guitars. Drummer Simon Jackson is both a hyperspeed beast and a technical technician behind the kit. His blast beats are ably turned on and off throughout material like "The Virus Conspires". While in most bands he would be teamed with the bassist, Jackson seems more on his own as bassist Darryl Abbot seems more content to follow along and thicken up the rhythm playing provided by Martin. In a lot of ways, the rhythm provided by Martin and Abbot reminds a lot of the early Death Angel albums. Finally, vocalist Jae Hadley is not overly flashy or anything, but he brings the nasty vocally. He's a fairly typical thrash vocalist to be honest, and that's all the more that songs like "Poison The Mind" or "Kingdom Come" call for.
PITRIFF RATING - 96/100 - I love thrash metal, and am very judgmental of it as it stands as probably my favorite "type" of metal there is. THE VIRUS CONSPIRES from Shrapnel is as good as anything that has come out in the last decade, be it from a new act or the all time veterans of the genre. This asskicker is well worth a listen or 50.