Sometimes I just want to listen to thrash metal. Typically that’s what one of my favourite European bands, Suicidal Angels, deliver.
The Greek thrashers have a delightful, almost imperceptible blackened edge and a knack for a crushing breakdown, but they trade primarily on their flair for a thrash riff and the speed that comes with it.
That’s what Years Of Aggression brings to the party. It might not have the punch of Sanctify The Darkness or Bloodbath, or the infectious highlights of Divide & Conquer, but it thrashes, and thrashes, and thrashes again.
Until, that is, a glorious twist at the very end of the record that even took me, a longstanding Suicidal Angels fan, completely by surprise.
Much of this album is standard Suicidal Angels fare. The pace is fast, the campy metal is present and correct, and the riffs are the kind of headbangin’ ragers we’ve come to expect from one of modern thrash’s most underrated bands.
‘Order Of Death’ is the best of them. The combination of pounding riff and catchy chorus is perhaps its most charming passage, but the song as a whole demonstrates a maturity of craft and the hookiness that gives Suicidal Angels an edge.
Opener ‘Endless War’ goes plenty hard in its own right, mixing the tenets of first-wave Euro-thrash with a little NWOBHM spirit and crunchy 1990s groove. A screaming guitar solo is the icing on the cake.
The title track is all chug and exaggerated metal excess, saved from cartoonishness by its aggression – appropriately enough – and the musical dexterity of a throwback band who are brilliant at what they do.
Suicidal Angels aren’t German but ‘Bloody Ground’ is a terrific example of narrative-led, mood-driven Teutonic thrash. This is a genre that uses sound to shout a picture that paints a thousand words. This is how.
And so we come to the sting in the tail. ‘The Sacred Dance With Chaos’ is the album’s last song and, for my money, the most ambitious composition in the career of Suicidal Angels so far.
It’s more than seven minutes long and it uses speed sparingly, opting instead for a classic metal approach, epic and stark, not to mention beautifully played. It’s not exactly prog – why would it be? – but its scope is wider than anything this band have put their name to before.
In many ways I prefer some of their darker, harsher material. There are certain Angels albums that I love because of individual beat-down parts that come close to tearing down buildings. Years Of Aggression doesn’t have that.
What it does have is a big sack of riffs and guitar solo worship without apology. The leads in ‘Born Of Hate’ and the title track are superb. ‘D.I.V.a’ might be even better.
And it has that wonderful, unexpected final song, the song that makes this release – the seventh by Suicidal Angels – one of their most noteworthy to date.
Years Of Aggression is out now on NoiseArt Records.