RELLIK, Killer  (2001, Doomed Planet)

The skull:
This skull looks so desperate for a bite, he’ll chomp down on any damn thing. A logo made of stone, a rat, a mushroom cloud…whatever’s in the vicinity, he’s gotta eat it. And if you haven’t figured it out yet, Rellik is Killer backwards. But the skull don’t care. He just wants to keep eating whatever you throw his way. Killer cover!

The music:
I remember reading about this California band in Metal Rendezvous ‘zine back in the day. They sounded interesting, but their 1986 EP was pretty much impossible to find, so I’ve never actually heard them until now. Rellik inhabits that special little space occupied by bands such as Serpent’s Knight, Slauter Xstroyes, and S.A. Slayer. The vocals are especially in line with any of those bands (squeaky, high and weird), the music a bit more straightfoward than S.A. Slayer or Slauter Xstroyes, but you get the idea. Basically Snakepit-metal, if that makes any sense to you. Which can sometimes be a totally great thing, but sometimes it’s just another forgotten old band who deserved obscurity because they just weren’t that good. While Rellik’s music is pretty okay in spots (the solo section of “Street Sinner”), there’s nothing here that requires immediate investigation. This compilation combined the only recordings they made, from 1986 and 1990, with three other tracks that never saw the light of day. If you’ve lived without them this long, you can keep living a Rellik-less life.
— Friar Wagner


IMMENSE DECAY, From Ashes Till Remains (2011, self-released)

The skull:
The Council sees a lot of covers like this, which frame a central, large skull with some vague, abstract textures. It’s as if the band asked for just a big dumb skull, dead center, for their cover, but then saw the first draft and were beset with a nagging doubt in their creative vision. So, they sent the artist back to fill in the empty areas, and maybe could he work in a little color? It looks like this image is supposed to suggest carven stone, but I doubt any sculptor, ancient or modern, would spend the time needed to chisel the brain folds or coils of intestines that adorn the space around this otherwise handsome skull. Who knows, though. Maybe Immense Decay had it planned out all along. “Picture it: a skull in a gutpile, slathered in stucco! It’s literally gritty!” Seriously, picture it, that’d be pretty cool.

The music:
As you’d expect from a band called Immense Decay (if you’re not already singing “Angel of Death” to yourself, you’re not much of a metalhead!), this is pure Slayer worship. The production is modern, but the riffs are straight out of the King/Hannemann playbook. That said, even some random band from Poland can put out a better Slayer album than Slayer in this day and age, and if you don’t need originality in your thrash (and really, at this point, how could you?), From Ashes Till Remains might tickle your fancy. The band is tight, the songs are decent, and the vocals are acceptable. Plus, you can impress your thrash friends with the obscurity of your taste and the reach of your acquisitiveness. That alone is worth something, right?
— Friar Johnsen