REVIEW: PICK AXE PREACHER – “Extinction Theory”
The resurgence of thrash music is going strong and Detroit’s Pick Axe Preacher is proof. The band have crafted a unique metallic amalgam rooted in thrash called Extinction Theory. This new album is diverse, powerful, and beautifully devastating.
Many of us seek out categories for music. It provides a point of reference beyond saying “yeah, this is metal”. The music on Extinction Theory dares you to try to put a label on it. One minute, you think “sounds like Exodus”, yet the riff pulls that sheet away to reveal something closer to God Forbid. Next thing you hear a rumbling bass and a sideways guitar conjuring up a Mind Funk riff. This confounding chaos of riffs leads to one hell of an awesome ride.
Let’s start at the beginning. You’re transported to a saloon in the desert southwest. A swinging door creaks and an old player piano moans. A dark stranger recites the a version of the soliloquy from Conan the Barbarian where Conan asks for Crom’s help in battle and if he won’t help, “then to hell with you”. Pick Axe Preacher then proceeds to unleash hell with the storming violence of “Nation of Sheep”.
One of the most interesting tunes on Extinction Theory is called “Reptilian Jesus”. Mike Williams’s screams the tale of our lizard lords from the 4th dimension with venomous vocals. You can feel Mike’s abhorrence for the cult of Jesus as he spits out each verse. The vocal attack crosses over into a hardcore rant that further accents the sense of rage.
What makes this “Reptilian Jesus” the best on the album is the guitar, bass, and drum riffs. From the opening power sliding riff to the squirming chorus, each instrument is tearing a hole in the fabric of space and time. Mike Hopper’s guitar riffs induce a sense of motion and chaos. Wolf’s bass tone is thick and meaty with a dazzling treble punch that breaks through the guitar and drums. Speaking of drums, Austin Vicars is a machine with blasting double bass providing fuel for a tsunami of toms and snare.
Metal music is the perfect vehicle for laying open the festering underbelly of our existence. “Violently Consuming” rails at our society which has devolved into disease, mutation, and lingering death. There is a hint of humor with the lyrics, “Heavy Metal Toxicity…I kinda like the sound of that”. The musical approach is more of a thrashing fist to the face. Once again, the playing is fantastic with biting guitars, throat punching bass, and ballbusting drums.
“Political Overlord Master” plunges the blade into religious and political despots enslaving humanity. This song is a top fuel dragster ripping down the track at 300 mph as it hits the chorus of “We are going to hell”. Then in a ball of flames, the song switches gear to a glorious acoustic guitar underscored with bass and brushing of drums. Imagine a slow-motion scene where the world is consumed by fire. From the fire, the music storms back with a thunderous vengeance. Images of forces laying waste to the despots in an all-consuming flame take hold.
Extinction Theory by Pick Axe Preacher treats fans to a unique blast of thrash music straight from the end of a blow torch. Instead of rehashing thrash song structures, Pick Axe Preacher throw down a refreshing mix that defies categorization. The one constant is unpromising speed and power. Every song seems designed to destroy the vertebrae of your neck.