Chainbreaker - Lethal Desire - (7/10)
Published on February 26, 2019
Does anyone remember when Canadian NWOTM crew Cauldron released a debut album called Chained to the Nite featuring a song entitled “Chained Up in Chains”? Not really worth checking if you’ve forgotten, but well worth knowing when you discover that one of Cauldron’s members is responsible for the guitars on Chainbreaker’s debut full-length. His name: Ian Chains. Let that be a signal of how tiresome Lethal Desire could seem for metalheads who have seen it all, because the same kind of numbing repetition as occurred with the word ‘chains’ pervades much of this old school speed thrash effort, coming up with precisely nothing original or amusing in the process.
Complaint though that may appear, don’t begin by writing off the Toronto quartet. With a line-up that boasts experience mostly of an extreme metal nature, the simple thrust of Chains’ guitar assault gives the brief songs on this 34 minute album their own kind of power without resorting either to technicality or innovation. Exactly where you’ve heard this before may vary from listener to listener, though rest assured that fans of Venom, Midnight, Sodom, and Overkill might all feel their grimy-sense tingling as dirty bass and clattering drums officiate over the shotgun wedding of traditional heavy metal and a stripped-down, sleaze-drenched cousin of thrash. Genre distinctions, however, prove of less value than general attitude, which explains the carefully chosen and in no way new lyrical topics of morbidity, sex, and nuclear war. At times, these all appear wrapped into a single snotty tissue of a song, such as the self-explanatory “Methalina”, which may centre around the strut of a walking (sexy) drug habit that gets topped off by post-apocalyptic air raid leads at strategic intervals.
Thus far, you will understand that Chainbreaker have gained no points for quality, yet the album exudes an eminent sense of satisfaction that can only be explained by use of the phrase “getting one’s hands (and much more) dirty”. Song by song, Lethal Desire delivers nothing worthy of particular praise, the hard slog of banging riffing winning over in the end as the muscular guitar tone supports heavy, thrash, and a few doom metal motifs on “Constant Graving” and “Postmortem Dreams”. Consistent quality and variety in approach turn songs of less than three minutes easily to account, even factoring in the very basic use of lead guitar energy and atmosphere. Despite both drums and bass obtaining copious power from a fiercely grubby mix, Rob Ouellette’s vocals lend something more to the presentation, varying between a semi-extreme yell and an impression of Bobby Blitz that robs the Overkill singer of his alpha male status and gives him a meth addiction in its place. Ouellette’s performance sums up the odd line that Chainbreaker walk between ‘80s rock aesthetics and a death metal sense of darkness.
Notwithstanding the origin of the influences scattered across Lethal Desire, one cannot imagine having a meaningful conversation about this debut, since it certainly listens better with a pint of beer in one hand and a pint of vodka in the other. On that level – one of instinctive, reckless fun and violence – Chainbreaker can be judged a success, but the experience feels more like watching the guys who smashed the liquor store than the work of an elite cohort of thieves going for the bank. One might not actually be able to complain about the small-time hits of songs like “Leatherized” and “March of the Dead”, though at heart we wish that the four-piece had put their heads together and come up with a bigger heist for our benefit.