Toiling in the shadow of their cousins in Black Metal, the practitioners of Thrash have put together a pretty solid scene in Norway. Latest to make their presence felt are VIOLATED, who deliver their (admittedly short) full-length debut with “Only Death Awaits.”
This is a band that have clearly done their history homework, and have recognized that Thrash has always elevated the riff to a special position of importance. The guitars here are at minimum equal partners with the bass and drums in creating the rhythms, and their effectiveness in doing so is superior to many of the higher-profile acts in the Thrash Revival. These are punchy riffs that immediately get the head a'banging. They may not be as infinitely memorable as some of the classics, but deftly impart to the listener the energy and passion of the performance, and draw observers in, making each of the songs a participatory, rather than passive, listening experience.
Further setting this album apart is the guitar tone itself, which takes somewhat of an early MEGADETH approach to the subject. There is no over-reliance on heavy bass effects to make the point here. The tone is distorted, but in a gritty, angry manner that stands in contrast to the deeper, more menacing approach of other practitioners.
Also worth noting is the vocal performance of Hans Wik. The timbre here is very well-suited to the music, and while his range is not as extensive as the more operatic singers in Metal, Wik knows what his voice's boundaries are, and he stays within them. He hits all of his notes, and does not stray into uncomfortable territory.
This is a promising release from a band in a scene that has been unjustly operating under the radar. Worth checking out.
(Online April 11, 2010)