DAY OF EXECUTION, Dead Burning to Ashes (2012, Brewery Prod.)
Here we have yet another album cover depicting some post-apocalyptic nonsense, a cover that’s probably supposed to look bad-ass but really looks sorta stupid. Whether or not the technical execution of the idea is good or not is a moot point when the concept you’re working with is artistically bankrupt. A skull chomping down on demolished skyscrapers — oh boy! He’s late to the party. The bomb, or wrecking ball, got here way before you, Mr. Skull — all you get are sloppy seconds.
These Bulgarians play simplistic death metal that seems to draw equal influence from Dying Fetus, Sinister and Bolt Thrower, but without any distinctive, distinguishing element of their own. While it certainly could be worse (their playing skills are decent), this has about as much appeal as that latest Massacre album. And if you’ve heard that, you know what I mean: redundancy incarnate. I have a soft spot for the almost Psychotic Waltz-esque lead guitar tones, as heard to best effect in “Warriors of Uruk” — they’ve got the sound down, that vapory, cosmic, heavily chorused sort of thing. Unfortunately they don’t make as much out of it as Mssrs. Rock and McAlpin. These leads, though, keep Dead Burning to Ashes from feeling entirely vacant. Ultimately this band’s sound would have already sounded tired back in 1995…it certainly cannot hold much appeal here in 2014. Bonus points for the cover of Bolt Thrower’s “Cenotaph”? Nah, not really, but nice try anyway.
— Friar Wagner
VIOLATOR, Annihilation Process (2010, Kill Again)
We see a lot of skulls here at Big Dumb Skulls. Many are big, most are dumb, and too many of them are boring pieces of non-art. Not this one. This cover art is all kinds of interesting, throwing out a nightmare scenario that happened one day to the citizens of some unknown metropolis. The skies turned pink and purple that morning. The dude doing the crazy backflip in the foreground was just minding his own business, walking to the bus stop, when outta nowhere comes this humongous skull whipping up all kinds of frenzy. His jaw dislocates itself to reveal a reptilian tongue of tremendous length while he belches missiles. (And he’s got a flat pig nose, too.) The missles haven’t even fired yet and we’ve already got a tremendous explosion to deal with. Bodies fly, cars slip over, buildings cave in…just all kinds of trauma. Where the huge mechanical pinchers in the bottom right and the mechanical tentacles in the background come from is a whole other story, and a whole other level of hell that these citizens are dealing with.
Third Brazilian band in a row for this Friar, and one that I name-checked in the Farscape review (skull 350). I’ll throw Violator a bone and call them “actually good.” I don’t care much for these third rate re-thrash bands, but a couple of them do it so well that you have to give them a pass, and I’ll do that for Violator. Their sound is exclusively fast and frenzied, reminding of single-minded US bands of the past such as Vio-lence and Gammacide, with vocals similar to Germany’s Assassin (Violator’s background vocals sound like “Baka!!!” and “Chocomel!!!” to me…fans of Interstellar Experience will understand). Every song on this EP sounds exactly the same, but you might expect that. They seem to know their thrash history, at least their own country’s thrash history, because they cover the obscure “You’ll Come Back Before Dying” from the obscure Executer, off their obscure third demo, circa 1989. It sounds just like a Violator original.
— Friar Wagner