Thursday, 14 April 2011
[ALBUM REVIEW] Assaulter - Boundless!
3. Into Submission
4. Slave to King
5. The Perpetual War
6. Exalt the Master
7. Dying Day
8. The Great Subterfuge
Three years after the highly impressive début Salvation Like Destruction, Aussie thrashers Assaulter have returned to the fore once again with their latest opus, Boundless. What it is about the constant stream of great old school thrash metal coming from our comrades down under I've yet to figure, with bands such as Destroyer 666, Denouncement Pyre and Razor of Occam among the many who've been busy with releases lately you're spoilt for choice with filthy blackened thrash when it comes to Australia.
Musically Boundless casts off most of the black metal influences from the début and as a whole is a lot more stripped down and focused bearing a heavy Teutonic influence especially in the vocal department. But where-as Berserker's vocals owe a lot to the Teutonic thrash scene, the rest of the music owes as much to the likes of Mercyful fate as it does Kreator and Destruction. Two of the most noticeable improvements upon the début are in the production department and the overall variation. As good as the début was, let's be honest, it had a horrible guitar tone and in general overall very hollow production. Now with Metal blade behind them presumably they were able to come up with something a little bit more substantial and produced something with a bit of weight behind it.
As for the variety, you have the straight up one two to the jaw with openers “Entrance” and “Outshine” with their huge riffing and blistering leads that could easily have come off Pleasure to Kill and then on to numbers such as “Into Submission” and “Dying Day” which have nothing really thrash about them at all other than their vocals. More than anything they sound like a dirtier and more depraved Mercyful Fate than they do anything thrash. Then you've got “Slave to the King” which at first listen to the opening guitar melody I did a double take to make sure I wasn't listening to Melechesh. The vocals, the middle eastern guitar tone and the drum arrangements are identical to those off Syphnx. Probably one of the last influences I expected to hear from an Australian thrash outfit, but no bad thing. This ethnic influence actually appears quite a bit throughout the album but it's at its most noticeable here. The standout number on the album has to be the closer “The Great Subterfuge” with its 'in your face' rhythms and overall 'epic' feel to it, utterly powerful and compelling.
What I like about Boundless is that while as successful as blackened thrash from Australia has been recently, they've decided to shake things up a bit. They still retain all their roots and core influences that got them noticed in the first place, but with Boundless they've injected a touch of influences from outside the circle, and it's worked impressively. It's a huge step up from Salvation Like Destruction and a wise move, because all Aussie thrash bands these days seem to be living in Destroyer's shadow, and Assaulter have sidestepped that to an extent and can only go onwards and upwards from here on in.
Originally written for Archaic Magazine