Fabulous Desaster - Off With Their Heads - (8/10)
Published on December 12, 2018
2018 hasn’t exactly been the ‘year of thrash’ that 2017 was. I’ve been blindsided recently by the more extreme side of the sub-genre (especially Create A Kill – check that shit out!), but I really miss my annual dose of nu-thrash. Sometimes you just need your beer-guzzling, skateboarding, toxic mosh anthems. Luckily for me, Fabulous Desaster are on hand just as the year approaches its end to inject me with exactly what I needed. As relative newcomers, the German quartet certainly pull no punches in announcing themselves. Anyone expecting political progressive thrash along the lines of Heathen or Toxik is barking up the wrong tree here. Despite having named themselves after a certain Exodus masterpiece from 1989, the sound of Fabulous Desaster is more akin to the post-millennial likes of National Suicide with a dose of Flotsam & Jetsam’s more direct material. Off With Their Heads is thrash for metalheads not afraid to grin a little.
On this album, I was hoping for more of the gritty, down-tuned riff work as exhibited by bands like Exodus. Just like fellow thrashers Bonded By Blood, the band’s moniker mislead me, and instead their sound is more in tune with the unbridled chaos of Fueled By Fire or Dekapitator. Angular melodies flail around almost without sonic cohesion – like the unhinged riff to “Abra Cadaver” – and Lukas Terstegge’s choice of groove occasionally verges on ‘what the fuck?’ territory – like the off-kilter hi-hats in “The Revenge Of The Mighty Alouatta”. None of this is good or bad, it’s merely an objective observation – although, depending on where the Germans decide to fly off the handle, it can be a struggle to keep focus.
Off With Their Heads shines when it seems to be just on the brink of losing control, creating an irresistibly fun atmosphere. Sometimes the riffs fit this vibe perfectly, like the truly Flotsam-esque opening riff to “Evolutionary Sins”. Speaking of that track, this was one of the very few – if not the only – moments of reigning in the madness and focusing on a solid headbang-worthy section. I look forward to these slower riffs on thrash albums (y’know, like Overkill’s “Horrorscope” or Anthrax’s “Keep It In The Family”) – but Fabulous Desaster are definitely lacking in that department. If you’re looking for a maelstrom of anarchy, this album will suit you down to the ground, especially if you have a sense of humour. I still smirk at song-titles like “Nut Up Or Shut Up”, “Abra Cadaver” or the sheer hilarity of “Shaved Bears”. The latter song is actually one of the highlights of the record, with some razor-sharp riffs and a vicious chorus.
I’ve been putting off talking about the elephant in the room, but I can contain my excitement no longer. Jan Niederstein’s vocals are insane. Totally fucking batshit. He is not dissimilar from National Suicide’s Stefana Mini (who, in turn, sounds like the bastard child of Steve Zetro Sousa and Bobby Blitz), only … he probably belongs in a straight jacket. His voice will be a deal-breaker for many listeners, but I absolutely love it. There’s something deliciously enjoyable about hearing this lunatic snarl out lyrics like ‘your face against, your face against, your face against the wall! Destroy your choppers just to have a ball!’. Incidentally, that’s one of the best choruses of 2018! Off With Their Heads is laden with memorable vocal lines and gang-shouts like that one, which will be the obvious hook points for any optimistic listener. But a word of warning: Fabulous Desaster do thrash metal their way. Heaven help the poor fucker who gets in their way. ‘The guillotine is set, all the blades are edged, OFF WITH THEIR HEADS!’