Thrash metal with the hostility and ravenous jaws of a rabid horde is the bestial sound which roars away in the hands and skills of Finnish metallers Axegressor, epitomised and taken to its strongest level to date on new album Last. The nine-track fury is an exhausting and thrilling onslaught of passion and thrash rabidity, maybe an encounter so well seeded in its inspirations to lack a strong vein of originality but holding an invention and craft to its contagious ferocity which easily make the band stand apart from the rest and pushes them towards the frontline of the genre.
Formed in 2006, the Turku quartet of vocalist Johnny Nuclear Winter, guitarist Seba Forma, bassist/backing vocalist Aki Paulamäki, and drummer Atte Mäkelä took influences from authentic thrash metal into their own ideas, impacted upon by bands and sounds they had been listening to since their teens. Alongside that flavouring, experiences from ten to fifteen years playing in various metal bands adds to a mix which is impressively accomplished and exciting as evidenced by the new album. Over the early years the band grew a potent and increasingly growing fanbase and reputation in their homeland, helped by shows supporting the likes of Dark Tranquillity, Legion of the Damned, Onslaught, Soilwork, and Municipal Waste. At festivals too the band has only done themselves good whilst previous albums, debut Command and its successor Next in 2007 and 2011 respectively, after first EP Axecution a year into its life, confirmed and accentuated the impact of the emerging Axegressor. The Listenable Records released Last is the band’s greatest moment so far and the expected trigger for the band to much bigger things.
From the opening Freedom Illusion, band and album has attention and thoughts engrossed and eager to explore the voracious enticements ahead. Heavily striding riffs and sinew swung rhythms engulf ears first within which for the first and definitely not the last time the great savage predatory sound of the bass thrills and bewitches. It is a formidable and commanding start, nothing flash or explosive but everything that is compelling and anthemic for appetite and passions. Once the vicious rasping vocals leap from the shadows a switch is flicked and energy and tenacity is lit up as the track charges with teeth bared and aimed for the jugular of the senses. It is a seamless and captivating move, accompanying group shouts and the sonic invention of the guitars irresistible. The song continues to mix up its gait, at times swamping the body like a swarm of insidious hornets in sonic flight and at other moments prowling around with a bear like intent weighing up its next move.
Lead Justice rips at flesh next, in top gear from the first second scything through air and bone with its rhythms and searing flesh with guitar rapaciousness. As the first, the track is an incessant persuasion badgering and impressing for an early submission with its tremendously gripping bait. A certain drama also walks the edge of the narrative, primarily sculpted by the exciting bass sound and the vocal causticity, the result with all combined a continuation of the striking presence of the album and ignition of an even keener hunger in the listener, a greed soon satisfied by the blistering Mind Castration. Riffs and rhythms as expected, shape the fury of the song from the first moments, carving out their temptation from within the sonic flume marking the first surge of the track. Once more there is an insatiable thirst to the elements of the song which simply nags from start to finish with repetitious and contagious efficiency, a suasion upon which vocals and melodic enterprise wrap their toxic exploits. It is a riveting adventure, a constant aggressor clad in sonic finery and creative distinction from those around, as all songs on the album to be fair.
Things are kept ticking over very nicely by Merciless Reality Check, a track which is nastier and more intensive than those before but lacks some of the spark. Nevertheless it is a pleasing and exciting incitement before the furnace of spite that is 15 unleashes its venom on the senses. Rhythms and riffs collude in a maelstrom of antagonistic and malicious endeavour from the off before aligning into another single minded but unique rampage. Malicious and hypnotic, and wholly infectious, the track is an invention clad predator which surges and twists throughout its tempestuous presence, a roaring proposition and soundscape for which battlefields and nightmares were invented.
Intensive examination is the order of the day once Social Pressure unleashes its punk infused tsunami of incitement and beleaguering enterprise. The track tunnels deep within ears and skin, hooks and grooves as pestilential in their epidemic contagion as they are malevolently seductive. Axegressor have mastered the art of creating repetition fuelled beauty with no finer an example than this monster of a track soon matched in its own unique character by A Fistful Of Ignorance. Delivered in a more predacious crawl than the outright onslaught of the previous track, it massages the senses with heavy handed riffs and that carnivorous bass persuasion to impressive effect before inserting its own transfixing and determined urgency.
The closing pair of Command To Last and Determinator ensure brakes are untouched in their tumultuous and varied deliveries, the first a constantly belligerent gallop with moments of unbridled aggression and the last an uncompromising heavy metal stomp around a thrash cored ferocity which may not match earlier successes but leaves the album in a thrillingly healthy state.
Last is an exhilarating encounter and though as mentioned it arguably uses well wore seeds, there has been few bands producing a sound anywhere near this good and uncaging releases as enjoyable within thrash metal over recent months and longer. A must check out release for all thrash and punk metal fans.
Last is available via Listenable Records in Europe now and in North America on June 24th.
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