I am an unashamedly, unabashed denizen of the Cult of Thrash. Admittedly, I have burnt out on the kitsch retro-thrash-revival, but there is something about the genre that periodically draws me back and sinks its’ riff-laden teeth into my auditory cortex for a good while.
There is a reason thrash bands are so energetic live. So boozed up, coked-out and speed-addicted until they hit a wall at age 30 where metabolism catches up and they balloon out. Even then, you can’t keep a good thrasher down – I’ve been almost thrown around the pit by guys twice my age in any decent-sized thrash gig. It sends even the most staunch arm-folding toe-tappers into a blood-drunk neck-snap headbang.
You can’t sit still at a thrash gig, and if it’s a genre you enjoy, it will wipe the floor with a bad mood anytime. Thrash metal is the fun but slightly ADHD friend of yours who is a bit intense, but predictably fun.
Hailing from the paella-and-sunburn coast-hugging nation of Portugal, Infraktor waste no time bringing the riff. Intro does what it says on the tin – warbling sinister leads over a big power-chord chug.
Blood of the Weak kicks into full Kreator and Dew-Scented gear, that frenetic back-forth palm mute scale-running riff and death metal tremolo in full kick. Vocals roar in with the almost quintessential modern-thrash gruff of not quite death metal, not quite thrash rasp. Hammering drums pound relentlessly alongside water-tight bass, never slowing but only speeding up further for chorus riffs and bridges. A couple of groovy breakdowns here and there, but even those have no reprieve.
Son of a Butcher introduces a similarly-cliched song title with Morbid Angel style tremolo fervour, before kicking back into a thick noodling riff. Keeping only slightly above the pace of a melodic death metal act but offering similar riff aesthetics, Son Of A Butcher is belted from guttural depths to scare off the average scene kid. Or encourage them to something a bit speedier than deathcore. I know in my metalcore-and-melodeath-gateway-band drenched teens, this would’ve been a perfect introduction to bridging those genres into much heavier territory. Slowing just enough for a breakdown feel, but keeping on-a-coin twists and turns, Infraktor relent just enough for you to quickly swig the dregs of that last beer.
Exhaust gallops in with the horseback-swing of thrash bands everywhere. This predictable pattern keeps up throughout the track, and now I’m approaching the rest of the album with a bit of trepidation? Are they going to settle into a comfortable groove from here on in, like so many contemporaries who fizzle their albums out past the initial tracks? I hope not. Sorry fellas, but your title track isn’t doing you justice.
Confront rips into an equally groovy starter, instead choosing to ramp up the palm-mute attack with a bunch of harmonics and interesting stop-start dynamics. These guys are quite adept at pushing just beyond that barrier of generic melodeath-metalcore-styled groove, thrashing ina comfortable pocket just underneath a death metal cut-off. A double-kick and guitar solo duelling break provides a very cool release, refusing to just power-chord under the riff-leaders as is customary in metal. Some very Lamb of God vibes in the latter half – if they cranked up the aggression a few notches that is.
Speech of Deceit opens with similar dynamics, thrash that plays every trope in the book but incorporates some time-signature spinoffs to spice it up. There’s nothing new here under the sun riff-wise, but the clever melding of death metal tremolo, stop-start riffing and pure thrash once again holds my attention quite well. Once more, the breakdown differentiates itself with some super-tight rhythmic changes. Honestly? These guys could easily push the envelope into technical death metal with very little difficulty if they wanted. They’d do well on a tour with anyone from Scar Symmetry and Revocation to Cannibal Corpse, I feel. Washing out with a short synth buzz to cleanse the palate.
Inevitability of Reason drags right back into an arpeggio and wah-wah lead that both sound lifted straight from early The Haunted. I’m repeating myself here and so are they, but it is both template fitting and mold-breaking. Especially when they launch into breakneck speed with that pummelling hyperspeed palm mute attack you’ve been waiting for the whole album. No thrash band is complete without at least one frenzied palm muting frenzy, and these guys intersperse those with spasmodic changes to break it up. ‘Unleash the Pigs’ does exactly the same – there’s literally no difference. Snapping ahead in a maelstrom of ever-familiar thrash and groove sensibilities but churning out contrasting riffs at a pace that pays homage to death metal great. Which makes the off-kilter and sinister breakdown riff even more satisfying.
Rounding off the album with an almost Agnostic Front style marching, rolling intro, Ferocious Intent brings on last beatdown on the listener. Nothing new here either, save for a more subdued verse riff that brings Dew-Scented to mind. Keeping on pace and true to their own formula, the penultimate track rings out just as expected. The Outro cools things right down with another more sinister arpeggio-driven riff, giving one last breath to things and allowing that cardiopulmonary fight-or-flight response to sit back just a bit. The relaxed leads and megaphone-vocals send things off in a way which gives some air, ironically making the rest of the experience that much more ferocious in the memory bank.
There is nothing that hasn’t been done or said before here, save for some impressively-tight time-signature dancing and flipping of riffs. Paying homeage to melodic death metal, death-thrash, classic thrash and groove, but forsaking no intensity in doing so, Infraktor have played all their cards right and made modern thrash that makes their contemporaries toothless in comparison. Riff on.
Purchase the new album by Infraktor here: https://rastilho.bandcamp.com/album/exhaust