NEURASTHENIA, Possessed (2007, UKDivision)
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.
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