Shrapnel – The Virus Conspires (Candlelight)

Wednesday, 19th February 2014
Rating: 8/10

British thrash has been able to create separation from their peers based largely on the technicality factor. Evile, Savage Messiah, and Sylosis each have a rather noticeable leg up on the Yankee thrash bandits, a lot of whom only got into the style because it was cool…seven years ago. DR’s bagging on its homeland thrash notwithstanding, there’s a clear distinction in quality as well – you’re not going to get run-of-the-mill, recycled Exodus and/or Slayer riffs with the U.K. bands, a trait that by and large, propels Shrapnel (who are quite obviously, British) forward on their rather enjoyable The Virus Conspires debut.

The band (who formed in 2009 and have two prior EPs to their name) have the preferable technical range. Granted, they’re not all over the playing field ala some of their peers, but the controlled chaos of “Titan” is an instant winner, especially those rampant triplet bombs in the verse. Heavy to the max. The upward, then double-kick-laden “Braindead” seems like it’s rife for the live arena breaking, while the manic “The Wake” includes some Hetfield circa 1988 yelps in the chorus…always a good idea in this context. The regular jostling between standard thrash beats and grooves also keeps the album from being static, even as jams like “The Watchers” and “Poison the Mind” start to boil.

With a dearth of lame-brain lyrical topics to accompany their razor-sharp, oftentimes manic, but expertly refined thrash, Shrapnel appear to have all of their proverbial (denim-wearing) ducks in a row with The Virus Conspires. And it’s not like this stuff is another “Here we go again” retro romp – there’s some serious playing here, a rash of quality ideas, a lot of which are worth revisiting, regardless of how stale thrash in general has become. Those Brits, always showing us how it’s done.

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