Album: Knee-Deep In The Dead
Label: Violent Creek Records
Release date: April 27, 2018
Format reviewed: Limited Edition Vinyl LP
Teutonic Thrash Metal is equally important to the rise to glory of the entire Thrash Metal genre, as is the Bay Area Thrash Metal. Circa 1982, German acts, Destruction and Holy Moses, and shortly after, Sodom, made the obvious move towards, and developed upon what Venom did on their 1981 debut album “Welcome To Hell” and the 1982 sophomore effort, “Black Metal”. Two releases that are rightfully credited with having a huge influential impact on what was to become Thrash, Death and Black Metal. Formed in 1982 in Essen as Tyrant, Kreator released their full-length debut “Endless Pain” in 1985, further cementing this European strain of Thrash, alongside the American (Bay Area & East Coast) and Brazilian counterparts. The Teutonic Thrash Metal scene also includes acts from Austria, Czech Republic and Switzerland, with the Swiss highly technical band Coroner, being the biggest name to come from outside Germany. Other notable acts of the Teutonic scene are: Iron Angel, Paradox, Exumer and Tankard, among many others. Notably, in 1990, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Coroner, Tankard, Kreator and UK’s Sabbat, captured and released their live appearances in East Berlin, on video, individually and as a video compilation billed “Thrashing East”. The Teutonic Thrash Alliance, forefronted by Kreator, continued to develop and grow to worldwide domination level, releasing strong, epic and iconic albums to these days.
The brainchild of Andreas Mozer and Gerd Hery, the band existed under different names (Meatgrinder, Patricide, and Premature Burial) since 2004, and adopted their current, and final tag: TRAITOR, in 2009. Hailing from the southwestern city of Balingen, in the German state of Baden-Württemberg, TRAITOR, plays pure Teutonic Thrash Metal! Starting with their debut full-length release, in 2012, the current lineup of Andreas Mozer (drums/vocals), Gerd Hery (guitars/backing vocals), Lorenz Kandolf (bass/backing vocals), and Matthias Koch (guitars/backing vocals), provided three intense full-length productions: “Thrash Command” (2012), “Venomizer” (2015), and most recently, “KneeDeep In The Dead”. Released on April 27, 2018, with help from the Hamburg based label Violent Creek Records, “Knee-Deep In The Dead” showcases TRAITOR’s most aggressive, and at the same time, polished offering. To fully understand this band trajectory, I feel that the potential listener should be somewhat familiarized with the initial two albums. From the energy and enthusiasm of their 2012 debut release, “Thrash Command”, with its old-school vibe, slightly influenced by Slayer and Destruction, the band moved on to their 2015 sophomore album “Venomizer”, a faster, stepped up aggression, clearly influenced by Kreator (Extreme Aggression) and Metallica (Kill ‘Em All) – seamlessly combined into a distinctive style, which I fondly like to call “Motoratmung”. On to the current “Knee-Deep In The Dead”: a vital step forward, as production value, composition complexity and, as aforementioned, aggressiveness. The obvious Kreator (90’s) influence is still present, yet, on this release, some (early) Sodom nuances are also palpable. TRAITOR sustains their path through the world of Thrash Metal with precision, aplomb and ferocity! An absolutely crushing array of impressive riffs, in perfect fusion, courtesy of Hery/Koch guitar duo’s interplay, completed with Kandolf’s omnipresent bass lines, punctually accenting Mozer’s first class, utterly precise Thrash Metal drumming. Hats off to Andreas Mozer for his ability to provide quality, genre standard vocals in addition to playing the drums. Lyrically a great part of the tracks on this album is influenced by horror movies and video games, a slight departure from their past two full-length offerings. The catchy lyrics combined with the all-band background intoned tracks’ choruses, makes for an easy to follow, scream along listening experience, on this eleven tracks, just under 40 minutes release. Gus Drax (Black Fate, Suicidal Angels & Sunburst) provides a guest guitar solo on one of the album’s tracks. The album closes with a bonus track cover of Ramones’ “Blitzkrieg Bop”. The album’s cover art, a clear indication of what the listener is about to witness, was created by the legendary artist Ed Repka, responsible for a renowned collection of metal albums cover art, on display from acts such: Death, Megadeth, Gruesome, Whiplash and Atheist, among many others. A very special mention goes to Vagelis Maranis (Sanvoisen, Arrayan Path), whom not only produced, recorded, mixed and mastered “Knee-Deep In The Dead”, and the previous two full-length albums for the band, but he is also the additive, if you wish, that maintains TRAITOR’s consistency, their friend and mentor.
“(..) Prepare for the attack, there is no turning back, Hail to the TRAITOR!” – “KneeDeep In Dead” is an accessible, mad fun, beer gatherings appropriate, album for all: seasoned Thrash Metal maniacs and newcomers eager to dive into a new, more aggressive metal genre! Highly recommended! 8.5/10 UHF
For more things TRAITOR, check Count Vlad’s exclusive interview with Andreas Mozer here.