Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Alphakill - Unmitigated Disaster

Canadians Alphakill is an interesting band. They seem to draw influences from all over the classic thrash genre. While some would say that this band is Testament/Metallica worship, there is much more to this band than just a worship band. Yeah, the vocalist/guitarist Justin Stear can sound like classic era James Hetfield or even Chuck Billy. He even has a Sanctuary era Warrell Dane sound to his voice, at times. All this depends on the song he is singing. What makes this band stand out from the aforementioned bands is their songwriting. The sound of the songs themselves can stand alone and not be considered worship songs. Their first full length, Unmitigated Disaster is anything but.

What this band does is let the riffs speak for themselves. They play classic Bay Area thrash riffs and melodies and while there is that Hetfield tone to the vocalists voice, their riffing and song structure is nothing like Metallica. I'd say the comparison is most likely on the opener, "Thrash Eternal." The riffing is more along the lines of early Exodus. The solos are amazing and sound like neither band. They have flash and style with loads of technique.What makes them stand out is that they go off in a more technical direction than just your average thrash riffs. There's also a good mixture of melody on this album. So to sell the band off as just some Big 4 worship band would be very misleading. Instead of taking them at face value, we need to see what's under the surface. Take a song like "Corrupted Masses" that has some intricate riffing structures that are not your typical thrash riffs but hint at a more progressive or technical direction.Once again the solos are the star here as they are so much more than Kirk Hammet pentatonic scales. Instead they are more technical and melodic at the same time.

The title track sees this band being bold enough to go into a more experimental and epic direction. Here the band reminds me of Wrathchild America in their execution. As a matter of fact, when I was trying to pin down an actual "sound" this band had, they came to mind over and over again. But, once again, they are so much more than that. This song is actually a beast of a song with intricate riffing and rhythms. This is what I meant by digging beneath the surface of this band. They give a nod to their influences but they expand on their sound to make sure they have their own identity. Of course, you just want to thrash the fuck out they have songs like "Threat From Within" that will just kick your ass, straight up. No frills, no flash, just in your face thrash riffs and monstrous solos that seem to just keep going and going...and anyone who has seen any of my reviews knows that a killer guitar solo carries much weight with me. No matter what direction they decide to take a song, it seems to just work.

Of course no thrash band would be complete without either the socially conscience lyrics or the lyrics dealing with thrash, and this band has no shortage of both. As a matter of fact, most of the lyrics on this album say something of societies ills. When you have song titles such as "Rebellion" and "The Age of Debt Slaves" you can see where they are coming from. The remainder are about thrashing your ass off. But the recurring theme with all of the songs is not in the lyrics but in the execution of the music. They pay homage to their influences but not at the risk of being unoriginal. All this, along with stellar production by guitarist Jon Warren and mastering by none other than the legendary Andy LaRocque, makes this a band that takes classic thrash to the next level. 

This is a relatively new band, having formed in 2010 and this being their first full length, I am highly anticipating their follow up. I'm curious to see what comes next for this talented Canadian quartet. This is a killer debut and they set the bar kinda high so we'll have to see how they top this. All I can say is that this is essential thrash metal and this is an indicator of what thrash will be in the new millennium, count me in!!

Special thanks to Jon Warren for the digital promo.

8.5/10



2 comments:

Matt Copper said...

Trust me, I've heard 7 songs off of the new album and they have definitely outdone themselves. The songs still retain the technicality, strong structures and overall thrashy-ness of Unmitigated Disaster but there's just something more to them I can't quite put my finger on yet. You'll hear them in due time and I'm sure you won't be disappointed.

The Elitist Metalhead said...

Very cool!! Looking forward to hearing the new stuff. I'm sure Jon will fill me in. Thanks for stopping by the webzine.