Katana Cartel’s War Part 1 is an unrelenting Metal assault that pays homage to some of the biggest names of the 80s. The classic sound permeating the album is executed faithfully but doesn’t add much that’s new to the busy Melbourne Thrash market. Nevertheless, War Part 1 proves an enjoyable listen, and at a short and sharp 23 minutes in length, doesn’t have a dull moment.
The album kicks off brutally with Pay my Dues, its slow riffs lumbering through the song in the fashion of a brooding Slayer. Steven Falkingham’s vocal style sits somewhere between James Hetfield (Metallica) and Tom Araya (Slayer), but also reaches into the extremes of harsh growls, while at other times staying relatively clean. Rob Georgievski and Aiden Le Gassick provide plenty of fodder for windmilling with their solos, though these, unfortunately, get a bit lost under the riffage.
War brings some serious groove and very catchy verses to the album, along with a powerful and aggressive refrain. The latter instrumental portion of the album introduces a Southern, bluesy groove that is a welcome departure from the pure Thrash stylings.
Raiden is faster and lighter on its feet, with more of a Judas Priest vibe than the Thrash standards. In this track the solos are more at the forefront, contributing to the overall lighter feel. As such, the high-energy track is a live staple that keeps the crowd moving.
Antagoniser is the most diverse track on the album, with an intro that smacks of Motorhead with the intense drums of John Price and a very dirty guitar riff to follow. The vocal cadence of this track is highly reminiscent of Metallica’s ‘Seek and Destroy’, but the track also introduces the most heartfelt solo of the album before leading into an intense, pounding outro.
Finally, the album pays tribute to Iron Maiden with The Dragons Door, a track that while continuing to be filled with classic influences, is overall the most modern sounding on the album. The solos on this track don’t quite carry the crisp Maiden vibe that seems to be the aim; dirty Thrash riffs are definitely where the band shines.
Overall, the lover of classic Metal will find a lot to like about this album, harking back as it does to the stalwarts of Bay Area Thrash and the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. However, the sound is a familiar one in the Melbourne Metal scene, and the album falls short of standing out from the pack. One can look forward to War Part 2 however, as Katana Cartel will no doubt deliver another blistering, if nostalgic collection of tracks.