A Washington state-based death / black / thrash band paying tribute to giant monsters with short and sweet albums and awesome cover art? Sign me up.
As its predecessor did, Sinister Monstrosities opens with a cinematic cut. However, unlike the band’s debut, which lulled listeners into a false sense of security with an instrumental track and some mid-paced riffing, this follow-up goes for the throat with Lord Kaiju’s guttural vocals over blistering, frenetic guitars and an absolutely killer riff at the 1:03 mark.
Sinister Monstrosities’ opener is an early example of the progression the album represents. Its core is made up of what worked on Bestial Manifestations—immediacy and venomous vocals. Yet Sinister Monstrosities builds on those two elements with a greater appreciation for songwriting and a much clearer production, the latter highlighting those earlier core elements without sacrificing aggression.
Not that the debut wasn’t polished in its own right, but Oxygen Destroyer’s sophomore effort sounds more mature, deliberate, and well-rounded. There’s a logical evolution from point A to point B (or track one to track eight). From the blistering “Merciless Embodiment of Everlasting Death” to the comparatively epic-at-six-minutes “Their Reign Has Begun,” the pacing is largely varying degrees of fast, but the band plays just enough with dynamics to ratchet up the memorability factor. Again, not something that was a problem on the debut, but a notable improvement here nonetheless. In addition to tinkering with pacing, this one digs a little deeper for inspiration, featuring American (The Giant Claw and The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms) and UK and Irish monsters (Gorgo) in addition to Godzilla and other kaiju found on the debut.
Lord Kaiju’s vocals are another notable improvement from the debut. Aside from a few odd riffs, Kaiju’s vocals are responsible for the black in this death/black/thrash soup, as he sounds not too far removed from Attila Csihar (Mayhem) at his most guttural. Whereas on Bestial Manifestations he was less the driver and more the passenger, Kaiju sounds baked into the band’s sound, an inextricable and, at times, feature component of the approach here. Perhaps owing to Kaiju also being one of the band’s two guitarists, he sounds particularly in-step with the music here, at times miraculously matching the frenzied pace of the riffs, as he does just before the 1:45 mark on “Slaughtering the Guardian Monsters.”
Yet not all that much here has changed, thankfully—both the recipe and approach from Bestial Manifestations remain untouched. Death/thrash done right, with a slight black metal touch. And quality over quantity. Literally no one’s brain wants an hour-long death/thrash bashing.
There’s something to be said about a band being locked into a concept. It requires a certain commitment to aesthetic and sound. That commitment in turn requires some amount of inspiration. With Sinister Monstrosities, Oxygen Destroyer distills what made its debut a fun listen into something with even more bite, more substance, all the while sounding plenty inspired. These guys have something good going here, and it will be interesting to see where inspiration takes them next.