Style: Thrash Metal on Speed
Similar bands: the pioneers of early Thrash Metal, Vulture, Seax
Release date: 27.04.2018
Label: Gates Of Hell Records
Since the dawn of time, humanity has been dealing with elemental questions such as “Why are we here?”, “What is the meaning of life?” and of course “Where do you draw the line between Speed Metal and Thrash Metal?!” Unfortunately, the debut album of the Swedes BLACK CYCLONE doesn’t really help to bring light into the genre twilight. In fact, quite the opposite is true …
The album’s opener “Death is Crowned as King” clearly is a Speed Metal grenade, but “Hordes” is, in comparison, more likely to be labeled as Thrash. When listening to “Black Cyclone” you would start wondering about where to put the song, if your head wouldn’t already bang at high-speed. Of course it really doesn’t matter whether it’s Speed or Thrash, as long as it’s loud, fast and melodic. And that is clearly the case here!
But why all the confusion? Because “Death is King” is placed somewhere in the intersection of “Kill ‘Em All” (METALLICA), “Show No Mercy” (SLAYER), “Heavy Metal Maniac” (EXCITER) and “Skeptics Apocalypse” (AGENT STEEL), and these albums won’t allow for a clear definition of genre either, as they were a crucial part of the Big Bang of Thrash, performed by Speed Metal enthusiasts. Just like these classics, “Death is King” offers high tempo, paired with a mixture of heaviness and NWOBHM melodies.
What puts BLACK CYCLONE ahead of most Speed/Thrash Metal newcomers is their singer Linus Johansson, who is also known from TRIAL. Johansson’s classic Heavy Metal voice sometimes sounds a bit unclean and not exactly accurate, but this is rather a sympathetic trademark than a downside.
Most of the songs on “Death is King” were written in the demo days of the band, which started as a Black Metal commando, what can still be recognized in the material’s dark tone. Not only do the songs resemble a furious gallop on the side of the horsemen of the apocalypse, the lyrics are often quite grim and sinister, too. For example, the title of the song “IÄH” may be completed by a Lovecraft’ian “Cthulhu fhtagn” with certainty.
Unfortunately, the album ends after scarce 35 minutes, but this way “Death is King” suits the overused slogan “no fillers, just killers” like a spiked leather glove.
Is it the songs’ dark tone, that made me categorize “Death is King” as Thrash Metal in the end, although this album incorporates a lot of NWOBHM trademarks and although Johansson’s clean vocals actually aren’t very thrashy? Or is it simply because the band itself calls its style Thrash Metal? I can’t say for sure.
However, BLACK CYCLONE’s debut surely is one of this year’s highlights, in both Speed Metal and Thrash Metal!