Death Strike the new album from Dutch death metal band Massive Assault is a bulging belligerent brute which does what it says on the tin, well as the band name suggests for sure. Through ten cantankerous bruisings called tracks the release thunders and bludgeons to great and eager effect. The admittedly album does not explore brand new avenues but instead draws a deep energy and colossal sized sounds from the well of old school Swedish death metal linking it to veins of thrash, hardcore and seeping drops of punk. As a result Death Strike is a tanker of formidable fully charged metal that gets the job done to a fruitful and pleasing satisfaction.
Since their formation in the early part of the last decade Massive Assault has left lingering marks through early demos, their debut EP Conflict , their first album Dystopian Prophecies, and the Slayer EP of last year. They are a band that leaves one breathless even if unsurprised with each release, their sounds driven by a familiar flavour and direction but with a feel and energy that leaves many other similar spiced bands choking in their dust. Their second album released through FDA Rekotz, a label that impresses with each release they share to the world, sees the quartet again assault the senses with their expected and thrilling sound though with a possibly leaner and tighter craft to their compulsive creations. If the likes of Dismember and Entombed rile up your juices than Death Strike is an album for you, a release deeply footed in the pits of Swedish death metal but with more than enough freshly cultivated additives to offer not necessarily something markedly new but music that churns up your senses and hikes up the pleasure.
Opening track Drive towards Death sets out the intent of the album from the first note. Destructive riffs flying from every angle whilst a teasing groove from guitarist Fredde Kaddeth spears through the ear with mesmeric appeal so that within moments the song an essential treat. Alongside these delicious infectious manipulations the bass of Jozze lays darkened ominous muscular tones whilst the rhythms and beats of drummer Gideon strike with the precision of the keenest artillery. It brings nothing remarkably original forward but the track is a wonderful irresistible partner in crime, a metal song that hits all the right spots.
The consistency across the album is high though some of that is down to the songwriting not worrying too much about being openly varied from song to song. That is not a big issue as the core sound and creativity is distinctly and strongly enjoyable and Massive Assault do add noticeable flavours to songs to stop them being simply reorganised clones, the likes of Plead Not Guilty full of punk infused energy and the excellent Pride adding a heavy metallic coating to its intensity.
Throughout vocalist Carl Christ spews out the lyrics with a delivery as caustic and venomous as the war born themes of the song, his unvaried delivery a vibrant stinging compliment to the combative sounds around him. Often lack of variety in vocals across a release is a negative but here it works perfectly, his inflections and the pacing of his grizzled assault controlled and intelligent.
As Death Strike sends its tracks relentlessly onward some songs leave a deeper enjoyable scar. Finished Sympathy tramples through the ear with a steady and even pace, its heavy weight consumption impressive as it crushes bone and sinew under foot. With rhythms using the senses like a punch ball the track leaves a gasping husk in its wake, an open victim for the following chug fest of Turning Tides. The slow stalk opening of the song prowls and glares, the muscles of the song flexing through swarming oppressive riffs and drums sure of their dominance. Eventually erupting into a gallop of thumping solid guitars and rhythms the track stomps all in sight whilst a brief but enlightened solo alleviates the pressure for a brief yet inspired moment.
Death Strike has no pretensions to be what it is not, the release simply a powerful and completely enjoyable unrestrained companion to share mayhem with. Massive Assault does not open new doors but they certainly make the room they command a very thrilling place to be in.