Creating a compelling maelstrom of energy and familiarity, US thrashers Fallen Angels back up their acclaimed second album Engines of Oppression, with another tempest of aggression and craft in the masterful shape of World In Decay. The Seattle based quintet once more openly weave the inspiration of genre masters and originators such as early Metallica, Testament, Slayer, and Megadeth into their equally classic metal hued sound, and again the band uncages a proposition which only excites ears and appetite. It is fair to say that in many ways you know what you are going to get with a Fallen Angles encounter, but not in what shape or gripping design it comes in. The same applies to World In Decay, an album with few major surprises but a torrent of things to drool over.
With their 80’s thrash and 70/80’s heavy metal influenced sound, Fallen Angels has increasingly and persistently lured strong attention, establishing themselves with fans and media as a proposition ripe with contagious and aggression driven adventure. Equally the band is a dab hand at entangling it all with a modern take on melodic and imagination sculpted textures, as first shown through 2008 debut album Rise From Ashes and even more so in Engines of Oppression three years later. World In Decay is more of the same but also equipped with an even fresher breath of craft and maturity equating to Fallen Angel’s finest moment yet.
Produced by Grammy award winning producer Michael Rosen (Forbidden, Testament, Death Angel, Flotsam and Jetsam, Tesla, Vicious Rumors), World In Decay erupts into life with The Hammer’s Blow and an instant onslaught of spicy guitar and rampant riffs from Erik Hanson and Matt Be Rot. They coax from amidst intensive rhythms led by the swings of drummer Steve Spitzbart, the track an uncompromising lure before brewing into a more welcoming creative blaze of flying grooves and hooks over the magnetically growling bass of Carl Larsson and around the vocal roar of Bradzilla which quickly emerges as the ringmaster to the rampage in furious motion. Thoughts of Exodus and Annihilator spring up from the growing tapestry of fierce enterprise engulfing ears, whilst the melody toned side of the song dabbles with folkish/Celtic flirtation at times, the whole thing ensuring the album gets off to a stirring start.
The first single from the album, Nightmare comes next, its darker and more predatory character swiftly igniting the imagination whilst discord lined sonic enticement has ears seduced before it all momentarily halts for riffs and rhythms to collude and unleash a ravenous charge. That Metallica whiff is a rosy hue within the raw and incendiary landscape of the song, but as everywhere it gets honed into something maybe enjoyably familiar but leaves expectations scrambling for success. The song potently backs up the might of its predecessor before Forsaken Existence kicks things up another gear with its inventive and melodically emotive presence. From the opening breath, the track is a maze of twists and provocative craft before settling into a leaner surge of bruising enticement, though it in turn is soon wrapped in more sparkling invention and sonic colour which go on to entwine for the remaining length of the fascinating offering. The track is irresistible, at its heights when exploring a diversity of styles and pure contagion when just bullying air and ears.
Leading the Blind is another proposal prowling the listener from its first touch, riffs and rhythms as good as stalking the senses as an intoxicating seducing from Hanson spreads tantalising beauty around the bestial heart of the song. As in the last, it simply grows in weight, creative strength, and addictive resourcefulness with every passing chord and rhythmic swipe. The vocals alone enthral and within the gripping drama of sound, it all results in one of the pinnacles of World In Decay, through a triumph superbly supported by Fire At Eden’s Gate. Whereas the last song was beast like, its successor is a caress of classical hued melodies and mesmeric string craft from the guitarists, only the firm rhythms providing any hint of the dark intent of the song within its impressive entrance. They soon get their way though and spark an uncompromising confrontation led by the great grouchy tones of the bass and the ever ready to grapple delivery of Bradzilla. The track never uncages its fullest fury or violence though which only adds to its commanding air, but once in full stride, it never allows an easy or unrewarding time to brew either.
The weighty stance and sound of Into The Abyss keeps things burning brightly though it lacks the same spark as the songs before it. Its body is almost subdued in energy at times in comparison, saving it for the sizzling crescendos which do escape across its evocative length. The individual skills and united craft of the band again only impress though so that the song is only ever pleasing, a quality also applying to The Hour of the Time, another which does not impact as firmly as others, certainly initially but only grows into ears and in stature through every excursion through its web of flavours and tenacious execution.
The album ends on a lofty high with Mortis Ex Machina, the song a rousing anthem from its opening roar and with a volatile nature casts a thoroughly bewitching instrumental landscape punctured by recurring and ferocious vocal incitement aligned to skilfully rabid rhythms and riff driven fury. Talking of instrumentals, the album actually finishes on a mesmeric untitled offering which like an epilogue to what came before leaves ears and thoughts enraptured and eager to experience the release all over again.
World In Decay brings the best of familiarity and fresh endeavour together like an old friend carrying a whole new persona, whilst Fallen Angels as reinforced themselves with the album as a band not yet able to turn the trash/metal scene on its head, but one easy to get a bit greedy over.
World In Decay is available from August 4th via Cyberdyne Records.