For all the movies, preachers and shaky old grannies in the world that have tried to paint the devil as the greatest threat to all of humanity, there sure do seem to be plenty of musicians making the cute little guy look silly. I mean, c’mon, he was bested by the likes of a fiddle in 1979. You shouldn’t be scared of anyone whose weakness is a quality display of string playing. And now, four bands have combined their powers to become Usain Bolt and crush the leader of hell in a race.
Wraith tears through four leads in three songs; a ratio that should make any thrash fan happy, particularly since each one hits with a slightly different style. Fret not though, the guitar histrionics aren’t limited to flashy leads. The guitars backing the chorus to “(Call Me) The Destroyer” sound like they are about to launch into a lead without actually tipping into one and “Seven Serpents” has a delightful storm of divebombs. Showing some love to Motörhead and pit-ready Exodus riffs certainly don’t hurt the proceedings either.
I’m sure you’re reading this and thinking, when does the first legally required black thrash wild laugh happen? Don’t worry; Wraith yucks it up at the end of the second track.
“OUGH” is such a resplendent sound that screams of live music and being a little unhinged. Black Knife follows that approach with the rawest production and loosest approach to their songs of any on Faster Than The Fucking Devil. This is further supported by how often guitarist/vocalist Hellwulv barfs out random wordless screams. If you’re a “blech,” “aeeugh” and whatever other nonsense emphasis grunt kind of person, you need Black Knife’s bouncy raucous tunes in your life. Plus, there’s no way you aren’t going to have fun yelling out the title refrain from “Gouge The Eyes Out, Steal The Soul” while blasting it in your car, racing down the freeway to your dead-end job.
Graveripper thrashes harder than a salmon caught in a grizzly’s dripping maw. Their three songs comprise the tightest performance and cleanest sound focusing on classic thrash’s emphasis on powerful rhythms that seem incapable of coming from human hands. Graveripper runs through the longest songs on the release but justifies the length by adding the most variety and technical flair. Of the four bands on the split, they also have the most potent black metal influence. The melodic elements of a song like “Mind Filled With Dread” provide a glimmer of symphonics without actually utilizing any of the extra instruments needed to pull that off. Those bits of melody add a delightful extra dash of darkness to their contributions on this violent ritual.
Unholy Night only shared two songs as opposed to three like the rest of the bands, but don’t take that to mean they have less to offer. Adok’s voice has the most character of these four Satan-whippers. Both tracks are small but mighty with the little drum break that leads into the ripping lead on “Angrier, Louder” being one of the most fun moments on the entire album. The opening riff on “Ancient Rites” is probably going to start some bar fights too.
Ultimately, if you already have a strong opinion of black thrash, this split is unlikely to sway your opinion. The differences between each band present is more a matter of nuance than bringing together a mix of groups from disparate genres, but that’s more than fine. As the season changes and more dreary days are ahead, these 11 tracks are just the burst of energy and middle fingers to get you through those tiring moments.