As an Australian band playing black/thrash, Assaulter can hardly expect to avoid comparisons to Destroyer 666 just as any Australian hard rock band cannot avoid comparisons to AC/DC. The fact that Assaulter is lead by former Destroyer 666 bassist Simon Berserker, makes such a comparison all the more inevitable. However, being compared to the best in the business is not necessarily a bad thing, particularly if you measure up, and Assaulter measures up quite nicely. Assaulter’s debut, Salvation Like Destruction is some damn fine black/thrash metal.
While I have described the band as black/thrash, in truth, Berserker’s venomous vocals provide the only real aesthetic element of black metal in Assaulter’s sound. The album does not suffer from a lack of low end or any other major production peculiarities, and the riffs are for the most part rooted in thrash and traditional metal. The lyrics contain a certain amount of anti-Christian sentiment, but are generally more concerned with matters like war and glory than devils or dark forests.
Assaulter’s rather unique guitar tone is a sort snarling fuzz that wouldn’t sound entirely out of place on a stoner rock record, but in the context of Assaulter’s bellicose thrash it gives the riffs and melodies a serrated edge rather than a lazy haze. The drumming is of the classic thrash variety; featuring some nice fills and pummeling tom work but generally keeps a simple, steady rhythm sans any double bass.
Assaulter’s songs, while varied in tempo, all have a steady, martial cadence to them. The band does not try to overwhelm the listener with over the top displays of speed, or technical ability, but instead lets the songs develop at a measured pace, confident of winning the listener over with their convincing song craft. The band handles the delicate matter of melody expertly, adding enough to give the songs plenty of memorable hooks, but not so much that it ruins the temper of their metal.
It is difficult to choose standout tracks on Salvation Like Destruction, as the album is remarkably filler free. With only seven songs, it seems that Assaulter chose to focus on quality rather than quantity, although, with an average track length of five and a half minutes, Salvation Like Destruction is still a respectable forty –odd minutes in length. As is typical in metal band starts off with a barn-burner in “Talon and Teeth”, the opening riff of which contains an infectious melody countered by some clobbering chords. “The Axiom Star”, “Proselytiser” and “Vengeance Whips” are also all relatively fast numbers, but all retain an epic feel. “Glory Alone” is more relaxed in pacing. The track manages to capture a sort of lone wolf melancholy without sounding sappy. “Awe of Fire” is a mid-paced track full of rumbling menace with a vitriolic chorus that strongly recalls Destroyer 666’s “From Genesis to Genocide”. The closing track, “Between Gods and Men”, is a seven minute epic among epics that sees the band march to the albums close in triumph.
I hate to beat the Destroyer 666 comparison into the ground, but it must be said that if you are a fan of Destroyer 666 (and you should be) Salvation Like Destruction is an album you will undoubtedly enjoy. Furthermore, anyone with an appreciation for metal of the epic sort should find something on this album to appreciate.