REVIEW: ACCUSER – “The Forlorn Divide”
The return of thrash metal in the 21st century has been nothing but positive, with contemporary acts of the genre such as Bonded by Blood, Warbringer and Evile introducing a new generation of metal fans to a style of music popularized by 80s legends such as Anthrax, Kreator and Testament, amongst numerous others. Metal Blade Records’ Accuser originated in the 1980s scene along with the classic bands of the time such as Heathen, Metallica and Megadeth, but in recent years went under the name Scartribe before returning in 2008 under their original moniker. Their new album, scheduled for a March 11, 2016 release, is entitled The Forlorn Divide.
The record opens with “Predawn” which essentially is a melodic guitar introduction which prepares the listener for the second track “Lust for Vengeance”, which as its title implies is a much more aggressive song, complete with rapid-fire drumming and a vocal style completely its own without borrowing inspiration from any one legendary thrash vocalist. The guitar work is also impressive, as it complements the time signatures which stop and start randomly as the track speeds onwards. An impressive opening to the record for me.
“Unreal Perception” is quite different in terms of its rhythm, but nonetheless roars along in typical thrash metal glory. The speed which guitarists Dennis Rybakowski and Frank Thoms, as well as drummer Olli Fechner, play their instruments is quite commendable and definitely displays their own individual instrumental abilities. The middle section of this track focuses on slower rhythms which create a nice change in terms of going from fast rhythms to sections designed to show off guitar solos as well as give listeners a chance to bang their head. Following on from this is the track “Arbitrary Law”, which has a more industrial styled tinge of thrash to it in comparison to previous tracks, giving the song as much of a Nine Inch Nails feel as it does an Exodus feel. The track also has one of the catchiest vocal lines heard so far on the album. Leading on from “Arbitrary Law” is the song “Impending Doom”, which seems to have a hint of sludge metal in its musical instrumentation and overall sound, before launching into a soulful and intricate guitar solo which is a significant departure from what the track has done so far. The almost-chant like vocals as the track approaches its fourth quarter are also a change of pace, which is quite exciting to see a band making creative modifications to what they present in terms of album material as each song roars by.
“Tribulation” is up next, with an introduction composing of a distorted bass solo as well as the traditional guitar and drum thrashing. The song quickly settles into a really welcome groove before the vocals of lead singer Frank Thoms come into the fray. “Tribulation” is definitely one of the most interesting tracks on The Forlorn Divide simply due to its rhythmic changes in time signatures and its inclusion of many different instrumental ideas which all add positively to the quality of the song. “Perish by Oblivion” follows as the album gets closer to its eventual finale, with a Slayer-influenced beginning section before planting its feet in various different groove-like sections which the vocals sit very nicely on top of. The riffing on this track especially is superb, and the quality of production is excellent in terms of being able to hear every instrument clearly. After “Perish by Oblivion” comes the track “Fifth Column”, with a surprisingly lengthy 48-second instrumental introduction before the vocals kick in. While the track is definitely not poor, I feel that it is Frank Thom’s most mediocre vocal performance heard so far on the record, as his voice is definitely not up to the level it has been so far on the album. On the musical front though, the instruments sound crisp in terms of their sonic output and drummer Olli Fechner’s abilities as a musician are shown front and centre on this song.
The penultimate track on The Forlorn Divide is entitled “Sulfur Rain”, which contains easily the most savagely heavy rhythmic pace and general audial atmosphere. While being one of the most up-tempo songs to be found on the album, the vocals are much better on this song in comparison to “Fifth Column” with little hints of Joey Belladonna here and there in terms of Thom’s singing. It’s good to see that “Sulfur Rain” turned things around and that the track before it didn’t lead to the last few songs not being as enjoyable as what came before it. The Forlorn Divide ends with the track “Flow of Dying”, and while a lot of closing tracks on records tend to be generally slower compositions designed to finish off the album in a particular way, this song does the complete opposite and retains all of its enjoyable thrash metal qualities, especially when it comes to the frantic drumming which drives the track from the beginning up until the end.
In conclusion, The Forlorn Divide by Accuser is an album that both new as well as seasoned fans of thrash metal will enjoy, as it is a decent representation of the classic sound of the genre but with a relatively modern spin on it.