BLOOD TSUNAMI, For Faen! (2013, Indie Recordings)
He’s got a mouthful of logo, a fanny pack full of weapons, enough bullets to make, like, two bullet-belts, and a title that invokes Satan in Norwegian. This skull is ready for action! He’ll need some help getting to the action, of course, lacking as he does legs or other means of conveyance, but if you’re willing to carry him, he’ll totally fuck some shit up wherever, whenever! Hey, where are you going? Aren’t you going to take this skull with you? I’m sure he’d really appreciate it. No? Well, fuck you then, the Blood Tsunami skull doesn’t need your fucking charity. Dick.
Sounding a bit like reunited Destruction but looser, Blood Tsunami bring a lot of speed metal riffs to their thrash metal party, and while there isn’t much of a crossover influence here, the overall vibe leans more toward a DIY/punk aesthetic than the Bay Area nostalgia of your average rethrash band. Maybe they’re just channeling the death/thrash of bands like Destroyer 666 and Desaster. They have some legit black metal pedigree in drummer Faust (ex-Emperor) but the actual black metal content in Blood Tsunami is minimal (though not non-existent). This isn’t bad stuff, and it’s packed with great riffs, but this kind of shambling, fuck-you-all-the-time thrash has never been my cuppa. There’s just something about the attitude that I find offputting, but that’s just a personal thing, and if you like your thrash fast, loud, and rude, then this is probably right up your alley. As an added bonus, the production is refreshingly analog-sounding, without triggered drums or buzzy, overworked guitars. This is bullet-belt metal for sure, and meant for a very specific scene, but if that’s your scene, then you definitely need a piece of this.
— Friar Johnsen
THE BATALLION, Head Up High (2010, Dark Essence)
The Batallion might win a few battles now and then, but they sure won’t win any spelling bees. But let’s look at that skull: it’s apparently being held up high, so we’ll take them at their word. There’s nothing very distinctive about it, except for those awesome teeth, which are bullets. “You goth fags can go fuck yourself with your prosthetic fangs,” says this skull, “’cause my dentist does BULLETS!”
The most notable thing about The Batallion is that their bassist played on the second and third Borknagar albums, albums which this Friar holds in high regard. Other members have played in Taake and Old Funeral, so you wonder why they’re devolving so significantly with this band? Head Up High might be professionally executed, and it doesn’t exactly fit into the ballcap-and-white-high-tops retrothrash scene, but it’s basically fourth generation thrash that you’ve heard a million times before. It’s like their favorite Sodom era is the punkier one (Masquerade in Blood, Get What You Deserve) and like they think thrash ‘n’ roll is something to exalt. Ah shit, they’re probably just out for a good time and looking for an excuse to get drunk. Go for it guys. (Speaking of “guys,” their first album is notable for having some interesting homoerotic references: it’s called Stronghold of Men and contains songs such as “The Spirit of Masculinity” and “Man to Man.” Hey, to each his own.)
— Friar Wagner
SCOWL, Impetus Ex Caenum (2013, Speed Ritual)
Man, that’s a lot of bullets. But, if you look closely, you can see the outline of the lower jaw, and from its position, it doesn’t appeal that the teeth are parted. So, maybe these bullets were drawn in after the fact? The way they extend around the back, it’s as if the entire skull were opened up to accomodate them, when clearly that’s not the case. But, whatever, man: Scowl’s artist didn’t waste his time in school time learning anatomy or perspective from The Man. He draws what he knows, and what he knows is a big dumb skull in a silly hat with a mouthful of bullets. What’s not to like?
The music, that’s what, Impetus Ex Caenum is low-fi D-beat of the dullest sort. If it wasn’t recorded live in their rehearsal room, then they certainly spent too much at whatever studio they went to. Everything about this is a sloppy mess, but the drummer deserves a special mention for his ineptitude. I don’t know why anyone would go to the hassle and trouble of starting a band, just to make this. Scowl makes me long for the fabled creative genius of Skullfather.