THANATOS, Beyond Terror (2002, Baphomet)

The skull:
Skulls gotta bathe too, and if you’re as filthy as this guy, you’re gonna need a couple dips, not to mention a stiff brush and some caustic lye soap. No need to worry about exfoliation (because you don’t have skin), or moisturizing (same), but do take care not to buff off the detail of your upside down ankh. Some kind of religious symbol on the forehead is all the decoration a lot of skulls get, so you’ll want to treat it well.

The music:
Thanatos’s Realm of Ecstasy is one of my favorite old-school death metal albums, so when the band got back together in the early 00s, I was pretty excited, but while their newer releases have all been pretty solid, none of them have come too terribly close to recapturing the special magic of Realm of Ecstasy. Part of the problem is that death metal changed a lot since 1992, but for some reason I didn’t expect Thanatos to update their sound at all. And to be fair, they didn’t update it much, which is to say they still held onto a lot of the thrash metal influences that defined early death metal. But they did update it some, and that means more blast beats, plus some regrettable high/low death metal vocal duets. If you can get past that shit, not to mention the cruddy sound, you’ll find that new Thanatos is still basically Thanatos. This is a quickie EP to follow their initial comeback, and it comes larded with some remakes and some covers (Possessed and Celtic Frost, natch), so it can’t really be called “essential,” but the originals are good (especially “Devour the Living”) and the covers are fine (if pointless, and cruddier sounding). If 1992 style death metal is your thing (and it should be) then you need to own some Thanatos. Obviously, start with Realm of Ecstasy, but if you like that, feel free to move on to their reunion stuff. You won’t be (too) disappointed.
— Friar Johnsen