Critical Defiance, No Life Forms (Unspeakable Axe 2022)

South American thrash metal band Critical Defiance returns with their sophomore album, No Life Forms.

Critical Defiance is from Chile, and they have been playing thrash metal in that vibrant scene since 2013. The new record follows the success of the band’s 2019 debut long-player Misconception, and it is a mighty step forward. Proceeding from the standard of early thrash lines, the music you will hear is rendered at high-speed and set to disrupt. Critical Defiance is not very concerned about where the border lines are in heavy music – they crank it up and do what they want, mixing in some delightful surprises. The band is Mauricio Toledo (guitar, vocals), Rodrigo Poblete (drums), Felipe Alvarado (vocals, guitar), Ignacio Arevalo (bass), and Javier Salgado (guitar).

There are ten tracks on the new album. Many are on the short side, with four running under three minutes. The kick-off is “A World Crumbling Apart.” Faithful to the title, this song comes at you from all directions at once, demonstrating apparent chaos. The speed is dizzying and there is a lot going on for a song that runs less than two minutes. It all sorts out in your head and the aggression and perfectly paced fretting gets the gears turning. “The Last Crusaders…Bringers of Death!” chomps at the bit all the way through. The vocals are urgent and forceful, and the rhythm section is deliberate and careening. The first guitar solo is executed with tripping ferocity while the second one is more melodic. It is an excellent combination. And then “Altering The Senses” pivots between a groove riff and a blistering rager. This album does not allow you to become complacent.

Other stand-out tracks for me are “Elephant,” which has a sort of jazz lounge thrash beginning before opening the gates of speed, and “Warhead,” a composition that is completely off the rails. A transition piece leads into the closer which is the title track and the longest song on the album. It is fantastic, displaying both the most patience of any piece on the album, and the greatest sense of completed energy. Thrash definitely lives on this record. Recommended.

No Life Forms is out now through Unspeakable Axe Records.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://criticaldefiance.bandcamp.com/album/no-life-forms

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/criticaldefiance

Unspeakable Axe Records, http://www.unspeakableaxerecords.com/

© Wayne Edwards

Critical Defiance, No Life Forms (Unspeakable Axe 2022)

Mortify, Fragments At The Edge Of Sorrow (Chaos Records 2022)

Chilean death metal band Mortify release their second full-length album, Fragments At The Edge Of Sorrow.

If you type Mortify into the search bar at The Metal Archives you will get a list of twelve bands. You are looking for the one from Concepción, Chile. Formed in 2013, they have a demo, an EP, and a previous long-player, Mortuary Remains (2017), under their belts. The new album delivers on the notched-up expectations created by their previous work. The band is Alonso Villar (drums), Benjamín Araneda (guitar), Cristian Fuentes (guitar, vocals), and Diego Gonzalez (bass).

There are twelve tracks on the new record, including a couple of filaments. As a concept, “Beneath The Emptiness” has catastrophic implications, and so it is a good way to start off. Actualized as it is in Mortify’s song, the depth and reach of the possibilities are realized. The croaking vocals and syncopated percussion blend in seamlessly with the black magical guitar intertwists. It plays directly into the hands of the following track, “In The Amorphous Path,” which is pure villainy. The dark musical rapture here chokes the life from any tentative pulse that might have hitherto remained. Do not be fooled by the lyrical passages – there is no full and true escape.

Short pieces like “Fragments” can even tip you over. It seems serene but just past halfway through, something goes awry and you start to wonder what you are hearing – or more directly: what does what you’re hearing mean. You can think about it deeply or shallowly and you’ll get a punch either way. Just a different kind of one, depending.

There are many stand-out tracks even among the general excellence of the set. “Mindless” is an instrumental piece and it is also a stone cold killer. “Contaminated Echoes” is one I still think about, with its homages to earlier metal and its rambling roughness. You should put this album in your listening queue immediately. Recommended.

Fragments At The Edge Of Sorrow is out through Chaos Records on digital and CD on Friday, March 25th.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://chaos-records.bandcamp.com/album/fragments-at-the-edge-of-sorrow

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/MortifyDeathMetal/

Chaos Records, https://www.chaos-records.com/

© Wayne Edwards. All rights reserved.

Mortify, Fragments At The Edge Of Sorrow (Chaos Records 2022)

Criminal, Sacrificio (Metal Blade Records 2021)

The ninth full-length studio album from the resilient Chilean thrash band Criminal shakes the pillars of the heavens.

For thirty years now Criminal has been making a salty combination of death/thrash/groove metal. The band’s first long-player, Victimized, came out in 1994, and in the decades since then the consistently excellent work of Criminal has drawn increasing attention. As with most long-lived bands, there have been a number of line-up changes through the years. On the new album, founding vocalist and guitarist Anton Reisenegger is joined by Danilo Estrella (drums), Danny Biggin (bass), and Sergio Klein (guitar).

There are twelve searing tracks on Sacrificio, starting with the ripping “Live On Your Knees.” It is a rough-edge thrash song with a timely message, a catchy bridge, and a soaring lead break. On its heels is “Caged” fostering a jagged stabbing attack, aggressively rejecting any limits. And then “The Whale” has a more expansive attitude, edging up the theatrics, shifts, and syncopation. And Criminal is only getting started at this point, just three songs in.

The percussion has a prominent presence on every track, with blasts beats and clever, technically stunning execution. Speed in the rhythm section is a consistent motif, as are tempo shifts sharp enough to make the ground move beneath your feet. Reisenegger’s rough and aggressive voice never falters, delivering a powerful performance throughout.

Stand-out tracks for me include “Theocracy” with its hardcore hammering and “Sistema Criminal” for its hair-raising lead work. Add “Hunter And The Prey” to the list for its sheer, raw urgency. This is an album that will get spin after spin from me – every time I listen to it I like it even more. Recommended.

Sacrificio is out from Metal Blade Records on Friday, September 17th through all the usual outlets.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://criminalband.bandcamp.com/album/sacrificio

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/Criminal.Band/

Metal Blade Records, https://metalblade.com/criminal/

Criminal, Sacrificio (Metal Blade Records 2021)