NEURASTHENIA, Possessed (2007, UKDivision)

The skull:
I was going to start with, “I’m no expert on skull horns…” but then I realized I probably am about as close as it comes to such a thing, so I can just flat-out say that I don’t think that’s where the horns go. The only justification I can imagine is that Neurasthenia is positing a very literal kind of possession, where a little demon actually sets up shop inside your head. This seems like an awful way to go, I must admit! But, these Italian thrashers must really love the idea, because basically this exact skull appears on their next album as well, albeit ringed by a necklace of smaller, evidently unpossessed skulls. I guess they’ve gone all in and decided to also steal the concept of recycling skulls from Nuclear Assault, which is odd, but I’ll allow it.

The music:
Thrash, but not your typical rethrash. I guess almost all thrash, at this point, is inherently retro, but Neurasthenia seem to be shooting for the weird not-sure-of-itself thrash of the early 90s, like the weird groovy miscalculation of Nuke Assault’s little-loved Something Wicked or the third Xentrix album. Those comparisons are sure to make Neurasthenia sound worse than they are, but I can’t think of a better frame of reference. At their hookiest and most melodic (as in “Filthy Lucre”) Neurasthenia are pretty good, actually, tempering their old thrash tendencies with a helping of melodic death metal, and they rarely plod in the unfortunate fashion of bad 90s thrash. Singer Neil Grotti makes the best of a limited range, eking out some fairly catchy melodies with less than an octave of Hetfieldian yarl, and while the riffing is short on stand-out exemplars, it also doesn’t offend with naked derivation. Overall, this is a moderately pleasing, if slight, late thrash entry that functions as something of a corrective to all the pizza mosh bullshit out there.
— Friar Johnsen

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