For some reason, retro thrash is hip right now. Every other day seems to yield another band with denim jackets, improbable hair, and Ed Repka artwork. However, little of this stuff feels like what it claims to emulate. The riffs, tones, beats, vocals, and, most importantly, the vibe are all different.
Hence my suspicion at the brazen title of Blood Tsunami’s debut album. It’s almost as ludicrous (and unimaginative) as Annihilator’s forthcoming Metal. While the Norwegian band may fancy itself flying the flag of thrash, I really don’t agree. I do hear bits and pieces of the German and Bay Area sounds, including a brief, blatant Slayer homage/ripoff. But overall, this doesn’t walk the walk – of pure thrash, anyway. It is a pretty solid metal album, though.
What separates so much nu-old thrash, including this album, from the true old-school is that it’s too melodic. Plenty of ’80s thrash was melodic, but it usually alternated with atonal riffing or revolved around a static tonal center. These nu-old thrash bands do chord progressions that no ’80s band would never do. It’s tough to explain, but old-school thrashers will feel the discrepancies instantly.
Another big difference is sound. The production is too crisp and the guitar tones are too big now to feel like old-school thrash. Much of that vibe came from bad production and cheap guitar tones, which just don’t happen in today’s climate of scientific metal production.
Objectively, none of this is bad. Melody can be good, and good production can be good. In fact, they make this album enjoyable. The riffs are catchy, and the drumming (by Faust of Aborym/Emperor) is lively and effective. The vocals are faceless, but I’ve heard worse. “Godbeater” is the highlight, a ten-minute melodic monster that’s far removed from ’80s thrash. Once I stopped expecting a thrash album (which was tough, given the title), I enjoyed this a lot more.
You can find it in Europe at Plastic Head; those in the US might have to wait a few days beyond today’s release date for distros to carry it.