REVIEW: DISTILLATOR – “Summoning The Malicious”
I had come to accept the grim reality that thrash would never be the same again and that it would never go back to its glory days of the ‘80s when the genre saw the likes of the Big Four, Exodus, Overkill, Kreator etc. write music that was smart and carefully arranged with much better riffs. I guess the cosmic powers of the universe had something else written in their handbook when I came across two bands that imbibed the same intelligence that the aforementioned bands had: Lost Society from Finland and Distillator from Amsterdam.
Supporting bands such as Anthrax, Testament and Gojira a few years into their career is no small feat and Distillator is a band that has been doing the rounds in niche heavy metal circles ever since the release of their debut ‘Revolutionary Cells’ (which was voted one of the top thrash metal albums of 2015 by Metal Wani). The band, consisting of Laurens H. (guitars and lead vocals), Frank R. (bass and backing vocals) and Marco P. (drums) went into studio to record their sophomore album ‘Summoning the Malicious’, an album that is to be released on May 1st via Empire records.
The album starts with “Blinded By Chauvinism” which is your standard thrash song and very reminiscent of ‘80s Exodus, especially Laurens’ vocal delivery (R.IP. Paul Baloff). There are occasional spurts of fast double bass shred patterns, but for the better part Marco uses the standard thrash kick-snare drum beat throughout the song (an approach that is maintained throughout the entire album). “Blinded By Chauvinism” is followed by “Mechanized Existence” which has a haunting vibe and even though innovative, Frank could have done a bit more with the bass solo to add more depth to the song.
“Estates Of The Realm” oscillates between thrash and groove with a lot of Slayer overtones. The title track has a very Criminally Insane meets Call of Ktulu opening before progressing into blistering break neck thrash. The pace slightly reduces in “Enter The Void”, but not enough to change the dynamic of the album, the lack of which becomes highly prominent at this juncture. The solos start getting very one-dimensional towards and in my opinion Laurens should start experimenting with his solos (something that came to my notice even while listening to their first album). Save for the double bass spurt in the middle of “Algorithmic Citizenship”, the album continues to follow the same tangent, up until “Stature of Liberty” which follows a palm muted chug structure with a lot of interesting guitar licks in the beginning and gallops. Heavily influenced by Slayer circa Seasons In the Abyss, “The King Of Kings” is the track that stood out to me from the album. More melodic than the other songs on the album, this track has, to my ears at least, a slight Iron maiden flavor to it. The album closes with “Megalomania” which is your standard thrash fest (very similar to the first track).
Sadly this album does not hold a candle in comparison to their debut. The production is unpolished (to say the least) and the songs are too monotonous. The album does not give the listener any breathing space and one tends to get claustrophobic halfway through the album. The opening riff structure of “Megalomania” is highly derivative of the 2nd track on their debut album “Saturation Bombing”. There are instances where things start to get progressive with the most obvious example being the multiple time signature changes in “Estates Of The Realm”, but in comparison to the tightly arranged riff pool that was ‘Revolutionary Cells’ (the breakdown in “Shiver In Fear” still gives me chills) , this album is extremely lackluster.
Dave Mustaine once said “You have all the time in the world to write your 1st album…the challenge is following it up with a kick ass sophomore effort”. Distillator made heads turn with ‘Revolutionary Cells’ but failed to live up to their gargantuan debut. Let us see what they have in store for their next album.