Epicenter – Grab The Reins (Self Released)

Tuesday, 19th August 2014
Rating: 8.5/10

A healthy sign of any metal movement relates not only to the support of live shows on a national/international touring circuit basis, but also the number of local bands who can pull together their own shows and draw crowds. When it comes to thrash, New Hampshire’s Epicenter are one of the newer acts on the scene delivering in spades through their high energy live shows, twisted transitional nuances and skilled technical chops on their instruments. Their debut album Grab the Reins is an 8 song, 44 minute demonstration of fusing classic thrash principles and adding the occasional gallop, groove, or modern twist to keep bodies convulsing, brains engaging, and mouths screaming for more.

Drummer Zach King handles the main vocals, an unusual move in a thrash band, but his commanding, speedy/melodic word barrage has a lot of charm and passion behind things; sort of in an interesting montage of James Hetfield meets Bob Mayo of the long lost local heroes Wargasm. His exemplary foot and fill work along with understanding the right time to push the tempo accelerator and when to set back into the groove gives “Twelve Feet Under” and the 7 minute plus Slayer meets Metallica-esque “Shockwave” instant appeal (the latter featuring brilliant, understated semi-classical instrumental work from guitarists Jared Towne and Ryan Burke in the mid-section). The title cut opens in a circular riff fashion, reminding me of late 80’s Bay Area maneuvers before the mid-tempo arrangement takes over, Zach once again floating up and down the melodic register.

Jared and Ryan possess all the right dual synchronicity axe maneuvers, picking up the shred and picking energy for the instrumental breaks and often using half time breakdowns or triplets to emphasis more of the thrash action (check out “See Through” and the tribal march “Common Enemy”). If I were to come up musically for where Epicenter’s focus seems to be, it would be …And Justice for All era Metallica, along with Overkill, Wargasm, and doses of Gojira/ Meshuggah thrown in for modern dynamic flair. Lyrically intertwining personal life experiences and political/social concerns gives the listeners mindful material that seamlessly blends their metal attack and can make you think – another throwback trait to the quartet.

Great production values, killer songs – you couldn’t ask for much more from Grab the Reins for a debut thrash album.

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