On their earliest albums, Mexican thrashers Strike Master conveyed a great energy, but their material was often hampered by a thin production sound. In some ways, this made them no different to many of their musical heroes; after all, a lot of the second division thrash albums released in the late 80s sounded pretty cheap, and it was often the bands’ energies in the live field that secured them a fan base. By the time Strike Master released their self titled album in 2017, there was obviously an increased budget, as well as a bigger bass sound driving their material, but there was still a nagging feeling that this talented trio were capable of producing something even better.
According to his own press materials, Abolisher’s Luis Rivera formed Dreams of Gray almost by accident. Finding himself unable to perform due to the pandemic lockdown of 2020, he spent time working on new studio ideas, and this intensive thrash/death crossover release was the result. Although it only features three tracks, ‘The World After’ delivers very highly in terms of old school riffs.
On their 2018 release ‘Necroshiva’, Kazakhstan’s Zarraza really tightened up their blend of thrash and groove metal. The album, although centring around a couple of tried and tested styles and obvious influences, was incredibly well produced and came loaded with impeccably played riffs. On the best tracks, elements of Lamb of God jostled against bits of Slayer, which resulted in something incredibly powerful, especially when dressed with a dirty hardcore-tinged bottom end. In terms of their abilities with a riff, this underground act were now on a par with French metallers Backdawn, and Atlanta’s Bless The Dead. This tight and mean approach carried the following year’s ‘Rotten Remains’ where the arguably more professional band set about revisiting and re-recording some of their earlier DIY recordings, again with brilliant results.
The new single from Mantic Ritual sees the Pittsburgh thrash band tapping into everything you’ve ever loved about the seemingly unsinkable metal sub-genre. ‘Crusader’ mixes Testament-like riffs with the speed of old Exciter tunes, but for that full on authentic feel, it features a brattish vocal that recalls the carefree style of the young James Hetfield circa 1983, complete with the kind of reverb present on the early 80s thrash releases.
On their self titled album from 2020, London’s Cult Burial served up an interesting mix of extreme metal sounds. Tracks like ‘Abyss’ and ‘Chaos’ assaulted the audience with a take on doom metal that injected the slowness with elements of blackened death and thrash, whilst the (relatively speaking) more melodic ‘Forever’ presented an ambitious hybrid of post-hardcore, thrash and black metal which pretty much sounded like no-one else. It seemed to be the kind of album where – assuming you could brace yourself for its onslaught and manage to absorb more than two songs at a time – it was possible to actually pick out different musical flourishes with each listen. Impressive, considering that on first hearing the whole thing seemed like a relentless outpouring of anger. One thing was for certain: their arrival had challenged Allfather and Kurokuma for the crown of “Britain’s Heaviest Band”.
Barely nine months on, the band began to hint at a follow up. It was to be a timely return; the UK had started to make their way out of a pandemic hell and the live music scene had started to gain some tentative traction. Massive riffs were certainly needed, and although their new EP would arrive too late to soundtrack the summer for a Bloodstock Festival crowd, Cult Burial were in time to hammer a new season into the advertised ‘Oblivion’.