REVIEW: DESECRATOR – “To The Gallows”
This Aussie thrash metal band has been in the scene for more than half a decade now doing what they call ‘A backwards sounding forward movement’ in the genre. The band comprising of frontman/guitarist Riley Strong along with guitarist Scottie Anning, drummer Jared Roberts, and Gerard Beisboar on bass; this band has delivered a couple of EP’s (Self-titled (2010), Down to Hell (2013) a live album (2011) and post last year’s compilation album (Skulls ‘n’ Daggers) Desecrator gives us their full-length studio album in 2017 – ‘To the Gallows’.
The album wastes no time at all and starts off with a big bang with the title song ‘To the Gallows’ with some crunchy twin guitar riffs and frantic drumming. The song is fast paced right from the word go and sets the pathway for what to expect through the album. Breakdowns and solos are pleasantly old school holding true to the style stated by the artist.
Even the albums artwork is a nod to the artworks of thrash metal records from the late 80’s. ‘Deserted for days’ continues to maintain the pace and energy from the first song. Riley’s vocal style is significantly classic thrash and so are the backing vocals which generally fly higher or lower by an octave. It is not a growl but a raspier melodic. The song has an unexpecting but kickass breakup from the second half followed up by some acoustic guitar before building up to the solo portion in the third quarter. ‘Red Steel Nation’ has more shredding to offer along with harmonics and the 80’s screams of metal.
By now it becomes clear that breakdowns and chorus’ are a strong point of this group. They come together very naturally and are often followed up seamlessly by guitar solos in a manner where they are structured to heavy breakdowns adding depth to the layers and not merely stitched in for the sake of being there. This song also has one of the best breakdown and outro patterns I have heard in a long time. Things slow down with the beautifully soothing acoustic number ‘As I Die’. The tune of this riff is both catchy and works well with the singing styles. Drums also take a slow rock approach and help build it up to the distortion portion midway. This song is slower on the pace compared to the previous lot but has plenty of feel and an elevated blues style solo thus making you appreciate the album and be willing to own a copy at least for this one track, which has been done simply brilliantly.
‘Serpent’s return’ intro sounds unmistakably ‘Pantera’ but goes on to developed character of its own. Roberts and Beisboar show off some skill on their respective instruments. The chorus is distinct and fits into the song despite all the twists and turns of the riffs and mind-bending guitar leads. Riley displays a good range on his voice. The album continues along the same lines of intensity for ‘Hellhound’ and ‘Thrash is a Verb’ which was released on YouTube. ‘Down to hell’ is another track which invites plenty of head banging riffs, double bass drumming, face-melting solo work and some good song writing. The final song ‘Brainscan’ brings the album to closure with an interestingly embedded hidden full-length track around the 7:40 minute mark which I will let you discover for yourself.
For a band that has cited themselves to be ‘A backwards sounding forward movement’ in the genre; they are definitely a forward movement with all guns blazing. Secondly, their style and structure is unmistakably thrash metal so classic that one can mistake it to be a well mastered record from the 80’s. However, the finesse and manner in which they achieve this sound is what makes Desecrator stand out in what is recently become a crowd. There are a lot of bands out there trying to emulate the old sound which many a time is quite different in the finished product. This group however manages to take that sound and bring it to the modern era successfully and naturally thus standing out on its own and offering up some refreshingly good tune; and most importantly a lot of soul and feel to it and not mere binaries and notes. The album releases on 27th of October 2017 and the band is already geared up and will be touring as part of the ‘Breakin Outta Hell Tour (2017)’. With respect to production the bass guitar could’ve been a little louder in the mix and kick drum a little flatter but on the whole, quality is great.
In what has become a crowd of replication and emulation of the classics, To the Gallows’ seamless style and natural sound shines among the new. Desecrator have succeeded in giving their album the most important ingredient that once defined the genre itself – a soul.