SKULL309

BLOODRIDE, Crowned in Hell (2011, Violent Journey)

The skull:
Fuck it. Why even bother making it look like the candlestick exists in the same space as the floor and the skull. It’s pasted in there, isn’t that enough? So what if it looks like it’s floating. That’s black magic or something! And what kind of lighting could possibly illuminate a scene in this fashion? The raw ingredients of this Photoshop nightmare are of a far higher caliber than what you normally see, and the hack that assembled it has a certain measure of skill with the software, but basically no attention has been paid here to the most obvious details that would make the image look realistic. The designer was so pleased with himself at having given the skull horns in the shadow that he basically whiffed every other aspect of the piece. “Check out the awesome shadow illusion on this gnarly skull, dudes! It’s like, even in death he’s totally fucking evil. Also, I added some nails, a candlestick, cobwebs, bloodstains, two textures of wood, and your shiny logo. Pay up!” And then Bloodride handed over a six pack of whatever’s the Finnish equivalent of Old Milwaukee. Paid in full.

The music:
It used to be, in the long ago, that metalheads grew out of thrash and into death metal, but these days, you’re as likely to see that evolution in reverse. Before this recent thrash revival, it was totally possible to skip thrash as a developmental stage altogether, excepting an obligatory exposure to Metallica and Slayer. The sound of thrash that’s been reverse-engineered by death metal kids after they hear Bonded by Blood the first time is a very specific, and generally unappealing thing. Witness Bloodride, who surely, as young men, grew up on Children of Bodom and In Flames and Napalm Death before they heard of the Bay Area and had to apply the lessons of their Eurodeath heroes to the creation of thrash. The result is unnecessarily heavy and insufficiently buoyant, wanting desperately to sound evil and forgetting entirely to sound pissed. The music is plodding and the vocals uncharismatic. As with all Finnish bands, Bloodride are perfectly capable on their instruments, and their album sounds impeccably fine, but there’s no energy and none of the manic, careening, thrilling vitality that animates the best thrash bands. Or even the lesser, but still good revivalists. If you’re too young to remember when Rob Flynn wore cornrows, then maybe this passes as thrash, but to me, it’s just half-assed junk.
— Friar Johnsen

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