Band: Thrashist Regime
Album: Carnival of Monsters
Label: Fat Hippy Records
Release Date: 28 April 2018
Format Reviewed: CD-quality digital
Sometimes in this scene, you get the greatest of surprises! Just when you think you have exhausted all pots of Metal gold in exstence, along comes something that makes you sit bolt upright and take serious notice. When I first set my eyes on the simply phenomenal cover artwork for ‘Carnival of Monsters’, it was clear that, at the very least, this was going to be a wicked ride! Even without hearing a note, I had a sense that yes, ‘Carnival..’ looked and felt rather special; serious work had been put into this. I am pleased to say that all preconceived assumptions and ideas I had formed have been well and truly met and, for that matter, exceeded beyond anything I could have imagined.
Hailing from Scotland, Thrashist Regime has been at it for quite some time. In fact, it has been a six-year wait between this and their 2012 album ‘Fearful Symmetry’. Understandably, the band could be forgiven for being a little apprehensive about how their new material might be received. Pfft, fear not I say…from the outset it is clear to me that ‘Carnival of Monsters’ is the benchmark Thrash album for 2018; it is that freaking good.
If you are at all familiar with the band’s debut, you will realize that Thrashist Regime has only one thing on their agenda; Total face melting rifferama! Moreover, while we can argue that their moniker is a tad retro-re- thrash-novelty in namesake and that said debut did nothing to advance the genre (ala Vektor and the like) I have no issue with the band clearly wearing their influences on their sleeve for all to see. This looks like 80’s Thrash, it smells like 80’s Thrash and it most certainly plays like it! If progressive noodling is required in your Thrash diet, then this probably will not do the trick. If not, then I suggest you warm up thy neck!
Thrashist Regime have stepped up their game in all facets of their presentation. Yes, this is total and utter 80’s thrash worship, but unlike others hawking the same style, TR do most things ever so RIGHT! Bottom line, it is the song writing and production improvement that are the most notable features of ‘Carnival of Monsters’.
There is major league sophistication about everything TR does on this record. Carefully constructed over two years with producer Dan Goldsworthy helming the recording sessions at his custom studio in Aberdeenshire, Thrashist Regime have delivered an extremely strong set of tracks. Frightfully blistering in their conveyance, this album contains some of the most memorable Thrash riffs i’ve heard in quite some time. I will even go on record and say that the 8-minute opening track ‘Laughter, Then Madness, Then Death’ is the greatest thrash track I have heard in the last decade! Most retro-thrash bands would give their left nut to write a song so ripping. Let me lay it out….What we get here is a massive fast paced Exodus-like chugger combined with some sublime Annihilator style melody that just hikes the whole thing up ten-fold! The track contains about four masterful riffs that weave in and out of some blinding melodic leads and then at the 4-minute mark, it hightails into an incredible mid-track refrain that is impossible to ignore. I guarantee it – Involuntary, uncontrollable neck snapping will occur! Backed with what is a simply crushing modern thrash production (Exodus/Sneap territory) the track is just a masterclass of epic proportions. A monster opener, I tell you!
If there is a downer at all about ‘Carnival of Monsters’ it’s that it reveals all of its tricks in that one epic opening track. Now, there is absolutely zilch wrong with the next 10 tracks – they are some of the strongest set of thrashers going around, it’s just that they cannot match or compete with the audacious attack of said opener. That aside, prepare to be smacked upside the head with tight as fuck, relentless thrash riffs throughout the whole affair; all props to the guitar duo of Rich Thomson and Kyle Forbes for their outstanding musicality displayed here. As stated, the song writing has been kicked-up a notch, with longer, more intricate songs that are both heavier and more melodic than anything the band have come up with before whilst still maintaining their focus on scorching face melting thrash.
As a point of difference, I would suggest that it is the ‘melodic’ aspect of Thrashist’s work that makes their compositions so much more appealing; this is the early era Annihilator I hear in the band. Chorus wise, lead wise, everything is catchier, more memorable and less paint by numbers than what other retro-thrash bands of their ilk would churn out. Furthermore, there a massive take no prisoners attitude about the album and also a great sense of fun – ‘Antarctattack’ is about Ants attacking the ice caps ffs, and ‘Headshot’ is about taking out Zombies that cross your path! All of this mindless lyrical frivolity is perfectly captured and delivered in spades via the killer thrash vocals of Joe Johnstone – energy, attitude and unbridled aggression permeates his every word – check out his frantic lyric-for- blast beat performance on ‘Operation: Keep Him Busy’. Outstanding! His band mates also do their bit with some well placed gang vocals scattered throughout most compositions.
‘Carnival of Monsters’ is redolent of all that is killer about our beloved Thrash genre. It rages with an anger, an aggression and a no hold barred relentlessness in all that it conveys. The whole package is clear and evident (how’s that awesome artwork? – also from Dan Goldsworthy). It also suggest that the band are about to step out of the restrictive shadows that the whole retro-thrash style casts far and wide over many of their contemporaries. Out on local Scottish label – Fat Hippy Records – Thrashist Regime have written a brilliant and vibrant Thrash Metal album that lets loose with all manner of kick ass riffage; guaranteed to invoke appropriate neck action! Take notice – this is simply beyond all expectations. 9.5/10 KMaN
9/10 Epic Storm
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