No Return – The Curse Within (Mighty Music)Sunday, 26th November 2017
Chances are if you’ve been a part of the death/thrash community for quite some time, you’ve at least heard the name No Return in your travels. Together since 1989, their debut album Psychological Torment in 1990 had Coroner drummer Marquis Marky as a producer. During the 2000’s they had releases on Nuclear Blast and Season of Mist – finally releasing consecutive albums with their current label Mighty Music for the first time in a couple of decades. The tenth studio platter The Curse Within sees mainstay Alain Clément on guitar (the lone original left throughout the discography) and the current quintet bring their full force thrash/death attack with fervor, engaging the audience in a set of material that contains European finesse and melodic moments against that North American-esque heaviness.
Immediately noticeable are a flurry of twin guitar or stand-alone harmony-oriented riffs and passages that when placed against a crushing rhythm attack make “Despise Your Heroes” and “My Last Words” vibrant and catchy affairs. The drumming can move from semi-blasting, uppity thrash tempos to mid-tempo grooves in the Sepultura/Grip Inc. mode, evident right away on “The Will to Stand Up” where Joel Barbosa picks and chooses his spots to propel his acceleration based solely for the song’s benefit. Geoffroy Lebon along with Alain put on a clinic during most of the record in filling the electric axe space properly – so many times vestiges of classic At the Gates or early In Flames came to the forefront, be it in the gallop-like charge to “The Crimson Rider” or the stutter step, circular parts against the battering ram riffs for “Stare at My Reflection”. Vocalist Mick Caesare has a raspy roar to his spitfire approach and delivery – sitting between early Arch Enemy singer Johan Liiva and current Omnium Gatherum growler Jukka Pelkonen when you take in his best work during “Despise Your Heroes” or his measured, rhythmic nuances to closer “Serpent’s Curse”.
Seeking out the veteran knob-twiddling expertise of Jacob Hansen once again insures a sonically crushing final product. Probably due to the variety of tours No Return has in play past and present (support this winter in Europe for Cannibal Corpse and The Black Dahlia Murder in the cards), The Curse Within has a vicious uptick that can appease both the thrash and death camps easily – proving the band’s consistency should be commended.