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Turkey's Cenotaph have given us a pretty generic brutal death metal album here. It's fast & intense throughout but there is really very little to distinguish the tracks apart from each other. I'm not sure about everyone else but I find the vocals to be pretty annoying as it seriously doesn't sound like he is even trying to make any type of actual words. It just sounds like one long groan throughout the album. Plenty of pinch harmonics going on. Another area where Cenotaph need improvement is in song structure & overall tightness. The elite bands like Suffocation have a way of balancing the technicality with song structures that flow nicely instead of jumping around all over the place randomly. Cenotaph don't possess this skill yet. This album is not bad by any means but it's not something I'd listen to again.
Okay, I am going to be honest. This is my first taste of Memoriam, albeit the release that is purportedly their best; according to the internet at least. Things start well, on the riffing front at least. 'Shell Shock' motors like a fucking tank, being driven with precision through its destructive and relentless path. Similiarly, 'Undefeated' with it's groovy as fuck riff and chopping rhythm continues in a full on attack of the senses. The sophistication and poise both come up a couple of notches with 'Never The Victim', with its defiant mood and melancholic melody. By this point my initial concerns about the vocals being too buried in the mix appear to be just confined to the first track as they sit perfectly well by this stage.
The politically charged 'Austerity Kills' takes things off on a crusty/hardcore slant with the visceral hatred for the subject matter barked out by Willetts in an almost matter-of-fact way. It feels relevant, modern and appealing to listen to, whilst at the same time the echoes of Bolt Thrower still ring in distant chambers somewhere behind. The more melodic start to 'In the Midst of Desolation' soon builds into a chunky riff monster whilst maintaining a brooding sense of looming danger throughout.
The experience and ability is obvious here. Whale's drumming is on point from start to finish here. Willett's vocals are as strong as ever and the performance of Fairfax on guitars is nothing short of superb. Healy, meanwhile is a bit drowned in the mix which is not necessarily a bad thing that detracts from the sound in any way, it is just obvious.
As we get towards the final third of the record things show no sign of calming down. I will have the scathing riffs of 'Refuse to Be Led' on my brain for the rest of my time on this mortal coil for sure. There's no obvious drop in quality, energy or pace it is pleasing to note. The toying delivery of 'The Veteran' just marauds and mauls the listener's ears into submission. The title track just cements the foundations of what has been built over the seven tracks prior to it. Washing over the listener with wave after wave of brooding tremolo riffs. As the band launches into the defiantly titled 'Fixed Bayonets' with the gusto of a quickly forming infantry, those heady days of Bolt Thrower at their very best are inevitably rekindled. This is the only track that sounds like a Bolt Thrower b-side. Don't get me wrong there's hints throughout but on this track it is much more obvious. As the band closes proceedings with the instrumental 'Interment' there's a real sense of justice to the victorious, soaring guitars on show as end to end this album is a complete triumph.
One of the better thrash albums to emerge since the early 90's sounded the death knell for the genre that changed the face of metal forever. It seems that South America has now become quite a hotbed for "the genre that just won't die" and these Chileans may just have trumped most of the other Latin neo-thrashers with their neck-snapping, fist-pumping debut. It's no hyperbole to claim that Misconception doesn't feel hugely out of place when weighed against early classics by the likes of Kreator, Sodom and even Metallica - the Cliff Burton-esque bass work of Ignacio Arévalo is of particular note. Throwing out incredible riff after incredible riff then melting your inner ear with his searing solos lead guitarist Felipe Alvarado must be absolutely knackered after this, which is probably why he keeps the vocals to a minimum (although they are perfectly fine). It will take a bolt out of the blue to produce a better thrash album this year. Count me impressed!
Aggressive and muscular thrash that also borrows from death and black metal, similar to the band's compatriots Blood Tsunami. There are very few tempo changes or variation, but a guarantee that your ears will be relentlessly pummelled for thirty-odd minutes which, as you know if you are any fan of thrash, is no bad thing. The downside is that the production sounds muddied and blunts the assault a little but, to be fair, this is a minor niggle. Recommended for fans of Kreator, Slayer, Sodom etc.