Review: “No Liberty” by Disarmageddon

The funny thing about bands going on hiatus or calling time on their careers is that as a fan you always have a inkling about who is going to return and who is going to remain lost forever to the sands of time. Call it gut instinct, women’s intuition or whatever but sometimes you just know and in the case of Johannesburg natives Disarmageddon one listen to 2021 EP “Detonator” is all the evidence you need. You can feel the chemistry between the musicians and that kind of thing is too good to let slip away. So after an initial five year run from 2016-2021 of much promise, when the band resurfaced with the title track of a forthcoming debut album in “No Liberty“, it wasn’t such a great surprise. Essentially the culmination of eight years of dedication to Thrash with a DIY or DIE approach, the record is once again mixed and mastered by guitarist Lance von Buddenbrock. Running on classic genre themes of War, Politics and Society it’s adorned by cover artwork from Adil Muhammad that must have had Gerard Butler contacting his lawyers…

Two years after disbanding and with new drummer Calvin Meyer in the fold as a fan you want South African Thrash overlords Disarmageddon to unleash a statement piece with the title track of their debut album “No Liberty” and they do so in style. The sounds of a riot break into classic old school thrash riffs, the bass from Seetharam higher in the mix so that it bleeds through the guitars in nostalgic fashion. Troskie’s opening verse confirms his range is just as good as ever, capable of Power Metal style warbling should the situation demand. Sandwiched between two flamboyant solos are some gang chants that will be fist in the air moments live. It might be a smidge over long with extended instrumental passages but that doesn’t take away from any of the unbridled joy of it. It’s shoot first and ask questions later as “Protect and Serve” approaches like a psycho killer in the night with Speed Thrash riffs galore as Troskie references police brutality in his lyrical narrative. A sample is well placed in the centre of the track, allowing the band to play with leads in syncopated fashion before breaking out Trivium style with the kind of verve, swagger and showmanship that was King in the 80’s but is seldom seen these days. The blistering pace shows no sign of abating with “Tunnel Rats” a nostalgic San Francisco Bay area classic which locks in a distinctive early Megadeth style before injecting a lethal dose of adrenaline. There can be no denying the sublime skills of axe wielding duo Lance von Buddenbrock and Matthew Jordaan because they absolutely nail their parts throughout.

Kidnappings are said to be common place in certain parts of the globe and “Hostage” tells the tale of a CEO who is taken with no remorse, his company destroying the planet for ill gotten financial gain. Troskie’s storytelling capabilities shine through as the band play out a cut that could have easily been a “Ride The Lightening” era Metallica demo, such is the quality of musicianship on display. An ode to the warbird without wings that is the Apache Helicopter as it rains death from above, “Gunship” takes the higher pitched vocal moments from Troskie to a whole new level and while it feels a little bit over the top, it’s a point of difference that separates the band from the Wolf pack.  The band get deeper and darker with their riff onslaught, some riffing that borders on breakdowns rising from the black depths as the solos bring the heat of napalm. A merciless assault of old school Thrash Metal, “Collateral Damage” has a little more sing-a-long ability with an air of melancholia about it, the rise and fall in tempo as it plays out executed with the skill of a highly trained sniper. Only the band know how much effort they put into writing, rehearsing and recording these cuts but it must have been an exhausting process because the attention to detail here is incredible. If you didn’t know otherwise there is nothing to point to this being a self release at all.

While the solos are sublime, it has to be said they are also tasteful. There is no soloing for soloing’s sake or needless flamboyance that is to the detriment to any of the material, so when the extended introduction of “Vantage Point” takes hold, you know you’re in for a good time. A ripper about taking out the enemies from a position of safety offering a good view, it plays on classic genre themes of war with drummer Meyer having a field day. His artillery shelling performance is the backbone for the sonic assault on the senses and he seals the victims fates. A slow burning instrumental with a title that references extreme poverty might not be something you’d expect to appear on an album like this but “Penury” is a piece that pulls on the heart strings as the guitars slowly weep. It offers a moment of quiet reflection that wouldn’t work elsewhere on the record while at the same time setting up the grand finale that is “One For All” perfectly. Easing into the track with a sinister edged riff and big bass sound before throwing the bullets in the fire and running like hell works incredibly well, the gang chant of “One for all… All for one!” something that you may find yourself joining in with on the very first listen. An album full of nostalgic charm that has a life of its own, “No Liberty” is a fine example of why the Thrash genre is loved so much [8/10]

Track Listing

1. No Liberty
2. Protect and Serve
3. Tunnel Rats
4. Hostage
5. Gunship
6. Collateral Damage
7. Vantage Point
8. Penury
9. One For All

No Liberty” by Disarmageddon is out 1st March 2024 and will be available over at bandcamp.

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