REVIEW: SHRAPNEL – “Raised On Decay”
Shrapnel recently confirmed details on their second full length studio album. They say that this is by far ‘the most extreme sounding record’ they have made. The five-piece British thrashers comprising of members Jae Hadley (vocals), Nathan Sadd (lead guitar), Chris Martin (rhythm guitar), Cai Beschorner (bass) & Jonathan Grimley (drums) promise song-writing, ability & aggression dialed all the way up on this new record titled ‘Raised on Decay’
Artwork comes courtesy Berlin based artist Eliran Kantor known for his work on album art of bands like Testament, Sodom, Kataklysm and more, this one depicting an empire built over the wreckage of another speaks volumes beyond words.
The album opens with some atmospheric and ripping drum rolls before exploding into “Hollow Earth” with some clean passages, guitar harmonics and harsh vocals setting a tone of modern thrash metal with some melodic bits and a blistering solo from Nathan. “Complete Resection” makes good use of the twin rhythm guitar sound and the frenzied drum patterns. Songs in the album speed up and slow down in a consistent arrangement giving them an apocalyptic sound. The first few have a modern edge and latter come with a more classic thrash tune like “The Boundaries Set”, “Jester” and “Paraiah” with the use of ample riffs and good length shredding solos, tremolo technique and a dive-bomb here and there. Hadley maximizes his skills mixing it up with harsh vocals, deep growls, occasional guttural, and chaotic screaming accompanied with a backing vocal. Beschorner’s bass is also well mixed and can be heard rumbling crisply in the mix holding the core rhythm together.
Most songs on the album tend to have an abrupt end before jumping into the next making the album less of a sequence; instead each song is its very own little piece of work. “Echoes of Emptiness” is another great riff-wielder with its massive bass lines and guitar chugs. Chorus is catchy with its dystopian crowd roars followed through with some hammer-on lead work with eventual shreds & harmonics. Vocals are hard-core and you can hear ‘em blowing a lung out! “Carved from above” is more groove with mute guitar technique and interesting breakdowns with some very cool twin rhythm guitar across octaves. “1.0.1” shifts around from slow and heavy; to fast and distraught with anarchized harmonics and Jonathan Grimley totally owning the double bass before ending in frantic echoes. The title track “Raised on Decay” has a neat intro and is one hell of a thrash number flurried with winding variations of riff sections, breakdowns with more melodic solos and great use of drum rolls and cymbals along with galloping double bass making this one the highlight of the record. The album continues through with the same intensity and structure all the way to the end with “Choir of Wolves” and final track “Antichrist”. The former using a few clean passages with spoken vocals, while the latter takes a more old-school all-guns-blazing route to curtain call.
Shrapnel’s hard-hitting and ferocious effort might have just paid off. An amalgamation of modern and classic sounds makes this album unique. It splits down the middle of thrash, death, and portions of tech-death styles seamlessly thus daring to discover a tone that sounds exhilarating and gives the album character. While I can not put my finger on any one particular track to call a favourite, the overall energy in the album is evidence of all round performance, dedication and contribution. The drums and guitars trade punches throughout with one another making for very engaging music. Vocals are gargantuan but sometimes get lost in an otherwise decent quality production. Having proven themselves in the studio the band will start touring soon and I reckon they will gather a strong audience and fan base along the way.