Shrapnel – Raised on Decay (Spinefarm/Candlelight Records)Thursday, 5th October 2017
While the Bay Area and German markets ruled the thrash roost in the 1980’s, this scribe found solace and substance in a few UK acts such as Xentrix, Onslaught, and Sabbat that could meet the criteria for diversity within the movement. Shrapnel aim to continue those UK thrash traditions in the modern marketplace, as Raised on Decay becomes a pivotal second album to build upon their 2014 full-length debut The Virus Conspires. Admittedly traversing a myriad of influences allows these 11 tracks to span everything from pure speed/thrash to sprinklings of modern melodic death or classic metal that keeps the band away from being a one-dimensional, generic facsimile and offers broader underground appeal.
The bulk of Shrapnel’s trademark approach comes into a killer rhythm guitar foundation, solid double kick mechanics and nifty transitions during the fills, plus a bevy of gang-oriented background vocals to carry key phrases home to the audiences. Most will be hard pressed to not join in on the antics of “Jester” from either a vocal or musical outlook, the lead breaks shred-tastic while some of the drum/guitar tandem work on a mechanized point like Metallica meets Kreator in a Forbidden alley. It’s not easy to be controlled and groove-oriented in one section, then go into semi-blasting maneuvers where the vocal delivery matches that intensity note for note – but that’s what you’ll get on another highlight “Pariah”. The swirling flange effects match the relentless speed and maximum thrash carnage thrown about during “1.0.1” – another cut that straddles the current heaviness of Testament with that advanced traditional layering that made Heathen and Forbidden standouts. Ending the album on a Slayer cover with “The Antichrist”, it’s applaud worthy to pay homage to Hell Awaits – the band able to showcase more of those guitar licks and true riffs while Jae Hadley vocally gives this version a bit more of a melodic feel.
The natural seasoning and maturation allows Shrapnel to embrace a versatile outlook – which makes Raised on Decay satisfying for those who desire semi-intricate advanced musicianship against their conventional meat and potatoes slamming metal.