Review: “Initiation” by Thanatopsis

Having released some demos independently between 1993 and 1997, Californian Thrash infused Death Metal quartet Thanatopsis have finally completed their magnum opus of a debut album in “Initiation”. their debut for Extreme Metal Music. Recorded at Trident Studios with renowned producer Juan Urteaga (Exodus, Testament, Machine Head) who also mixed and mastered the album, 3/4 of the original band have reunited in vocalist John Bishop, guitarist David A. Couch and bassist Thom Hall with the new of drummer Jason Borton (Jungle Rot, Arkaik) to re-record a selection of the older cuts, giving them a fresh lease of life as well as adding new material. The missing member is original drummer Chris Stolle and a trio of the tracks here feature on EP “The Age Of Silence” from 1994. Known for old school Thrash Death Metal influenced tracks that are an emotionally twisted ride of violently catchy brutality with lyrical themes that include corruption, occultism, murder, revolt and loss of faith that are synonymous with both genres, does the album merely dig up the past with nostalgia or does it have enough to hold its own in 2020?

The answer to that question is apparent from the start of “Age of Silence“, it’s early Metallica esq classic guitar introduction that plays out as if it is being performed on a windswept hill has all the modern production value you can squeeze into it before the gavel comes down with a flourish of riffs and outstanding percussive work. The mix is vibrant but Borton’s a powerhouse on the kit and his performance stands out and up to the riffs in fine combination. “Embodiment” continues the pendulum swing with short bursts of blast beats laying the gauntlet down for the other musicians to step up and they do. Couch brings plenty of chug and haunting short lead moments while the bass from Hall is allowed to bleed through at various points with numerous neat tempo shifts and time signature changes that not only impress but also takes the monotony that holds some Thrash acts back out of the equation. The gallop of “Consequence” is an energetic thrill ride in which Bishop switches up from his normal bark to some evil shrill Death Metal vocal parts and when they’re relayed as a main vocal and a backup they sound as immense as the face melting solo that follows them. “Malfated” sounds like a latter career Slayer cut that blends some melodic riffs into the early parts and by this mid point of the record it’s clear how vital getting producer Juan Urteaga on board for this album was. His understanding of the genre, having worked with many of its heavy hitters has had impact on this record and pushed the band to produce better performances, nothing on it sounds stale or aged but as if it was written and recorded last week, the brutal scream at the end of this cut in particular is a joy.

The title track of the album “Initiation” depicts a homicide pact of occult human sacrifice to an unnamed God or Demon with a creepy horror vibe held in some rapid fire lead flourishes while also having a couple of odd time signatured Jazzy contemporary moments that you would expect from anything like this but that sound simply incredible. Tipping the scales of justice “Your Demise” has some savage Death Metal roars in amongst some pulsating riffs and a climbing virtuoso solo that again you wouldn’t expect of the genre but sounds jaw dropping in this setting. The virtuoso moments continue into “Grim“, an another breakneck cut for headbangers Worldwide to lose their minds to with solo after lead flowing through the track that give it that hair raising electricity throughout and that oddly time signatured final flourish is just unquestionably brilliant. A whirlwind of percussive battery from Borton brings “Suffer System” to life, a gigantic machine that comprises everything you could possibly want in a modern Metal track and while Bishop barks “Kill! Kill! Kill!” you know it’s going to be chanted back at him by anyone who isn’t in the breathless circle pit [8.5/10]

Track Listing:

1. The Age of Silence
2. Embodiment
3. Consequence
5. Initiation
6. Your Demise
7. Grim
8. Suffer System

Initiation” by Thanatopsis is out 23rd October 2020 via Rockshots Records with pre-orders available here

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