Throw NWOBHM, Voivod, Eddie Van Halen, and ’70s prog into a blender, and you’d get Terror Squad. The Tokyo thrashers beat the NY rappers to the name by six years, but Chaosdragon Rising (Worldchaos, 2006) is the first I’ve heard from them. It blows me away. Any band that cites Bulldozer, Converge, and friggin’ Jake E. Lee as influences deserves a look. The guitarists seemingly got their chops solely from ’80s guitar magazines; they’re probably well-versed in Steve Vai’s work with David Lee Roth. They can do ripping thrash and even a little grindcore, but they also let loose jazz fusion licks that betray higher learning. At 1:45, “Helldozer” goes into straight-up ’70s Rush – dig how the guitar harmonies blossom left and right – then says, “Fuck that” at 2:09 and returns to MC5 riffs. The singer even makes like Stooges-era Iggy Pop; “We Bite” also has Stooges-esque saxophone skronk. “Fight Forever,” too, takes a prog breather before reloading its thrash machine gun. I haven’t felt such raw, snotty energy since I heard Kill ‘Em All. Bonus points for the most amazing album artwork I’ve seen in years – it’s Hokusai gone metal. Each song has its own artwork (16 panels in total), and the whole thing feels like a Japanese comic book. You can see some of the images here.

Fight Forever

Chaosdragon Rising is available from The End.