Today’s retro thrash revival mostly comes in two flavors – modern and hyper-compressed, and slavishly old-school, down to the crappy production. The latter only makes me want to listen to the original. (Why date someone who’s just like your ex?) Blood Money (Pulverised, 2008) skews towards the former, but balances its pancake drums with old-school riffing. Guillotine have somewhat of an old-school claim, putting out Under the Guillotine, a German-style thrash workout, in 1997 before hiding out for a while. Most likely they saw the current thrash revival and decided to get a piece of it.
Which is fine – I’m finding that my favorite retro thrash is by rejuvenated old guys. (Recent records by Death Angel, Exodus, Laaz Rockit, and Testament come to mind.) Guillotine have probably kept tabs on younger bands, as “Insanity” has melodic ostinatos that recall The Haunted. In fact, Guillotine is pretty much the band that The Haunted should be. Slayer-isms pop up here and there, and “Dying World” is Testament-esque, down to its clean-toned intro, “Madness.” Thus, Guillotine haven’t come back as anything terribly original. (Later Kreator is a good reference point.)
But one crucial aspect does feel original – songwriting. The hooks, tension and release, and balance of melody and brutality all make for memorable songs. These are in short supply in today’s retro thrash. Sad that the ability to write an actual song has become a lost art. Guillotine have it, though, and they maintain their roots while moving forward with modern touches. Ed Repka’s artwork is perfect for the occasion: the end of one era, the start of another. Adios Motherfucker (A.M.F.) – there’s a thrash title right there.