|Musical Style: Thrash/Metal||Produced By: Gabriel Spazziano|
|Record Label: Independent||Country Of Origin: Brazil|
|Year Released: 2015||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 15||Rating: 70%|
|Running Time: 63:55|
Melodic thrash act Deliverance has enjoyed near mythical status since its mid-eighties inception, and rightly so when factoring the renowned ‘Metallica cross Queensryche’ sound it introduced on its Greetings Of Death demo from 1986 and highly regarded first two albums Deliverance and Weapons Of Our Warfare that followed in 1989 and 1990, respectively. But where are the imitators? If imitation is the greatest form of flattery, then shouldn’t there be scores of ‘melodic thrash’ bands literally coming out of the woodwork to ride the coattails of the legendary ‘Big D’? Perhaps it comes down to talent in that it could also be said only a few select groups exist capable of reproducing the Deliverance two-pronged approach to success: utilizing tight as it gets thrash and speed metal riffs but also high end and soaring vocals similar to those of Geoff Tate.
The only that comes to mind is Temple Of Blood, which on its albums Prepare For The Judgement Of Mankind (2005) and Overlord (2008) hint of Deliverance in terms of combining very heavy and aggressive music with the melodic vocals of Jim Mullis. Sweden’s Chained also deserves mention from how on its first and only album Grateful Sinner (2009) takes a thrash foundation while emphasizing strong doses of melody and groove but also with vocals on the gruff and lower register side of things in contrast.
São Paulo, Brazil based Mad Dragzter has carved out a niche within the thrash genre as well with three albums to its credit, Strong Mind (2003), Killing The Devil (2006) and Master of Space and Time (2015). While I hesitate to label Mad Dragzter ‘melodic thrash’, it imbues much of the Master Of Space And Time material with enough melody to garner my interest, keeping in mind I am not a connoisseur of the thrash segment. In past reviews, I have described thrash metal as ‘overbearing and heavy handed to be near unlistenable’ while at the same time ‘lacking accessible appeal’. What allows Mad Dragzter to separate itself - and minimize (in my opinion) the repetitiveness often associated with the thrash genre - is also its ability to branch out and mix other forms of music with a thrash basis (more on this as we go into detail about individual tracks).
Another turnoff to thrash metal is harsh and abrasive vocals that can make understanding lyrics a near impossibility. No, Mad Dragzter does not possess a front man with an upper end range similar to that of Jimmy P. Brown II (Deliverance); rather vocalist Tiago Torres takes the rough and tumble low register approach most often associated with thrash music. It would be fair to say his at times harsh and heavy set style are an inquired taste, at least to these ears which do not often partake of thrash. That said, the bands (mostly) melodic basis and variances to its songwriting allows his delivery to come across much easier to digest. Besides, when he really reaches down low he reminds me somewhat of original Leviticus vocalist Hakan Andersson- so I kind of like him in this regard.
Opening track “Almighty” highlights everything that works well with Mad Dragzter: pulverizing heaviness and chaotic aggression but also melodic in terms of a catchy chorus that approaches the radio friendly (do I dare say that about a thrash band?). Some modern metal aspects further help set the song apart. “5708” represents another standout piece, powering its way to galloping riffs over might drum roles in playing up a technical to classic metal influence. The unflagging ‘open the gates of Zion!’ refrain puts things over the top in unequivocally.
“Valley Of Dry Bones” also succeeds, with front to back perseverant riffs that sound as if taken off the Deliverance debut while hinting of just enough melody to keep your attention (the snarled chorus shines with its indelible edge). Interestingly, the song fades out its final minute and a half to some light acoustic tinctures with a classical feel. Albums tile tracks throws a curveball in opening to an extended keyboards solo that has a spacey New Age-ish feel to it. Otherwise, “Master Of Space And Time” contrasts an abrading face melting intensity with one of the albums best and more memorable choruses (of the draw you in at once variety).
In a faster direction, “Gehenna: The Second Death” proves an awesome speed metal barnburner in which drummer Eric Claros shines with his non-stop double kick drum abilities. Standing out equally is the powerful ‘Lake of fire! (lake of! lake of!)’ refrain delivered with a ton of heart and passion. “Megiddo” begins in ominous (almost doom-like) fashion to portent bass prior to taking off at once at a mercurial clip in upholding shouted backing vocals and the high-energy aura to match. The extended instrumental run closing the final two minutes allows the guitar team of Tiago Torres and Gabriel “Spazziani to unleash some sizzling dual soloing.
A notch below but still good is “One Nation, One Church”, a tenacious heavy hitter with a slight classic metal feel and melody of an understated quality (not marked as some but present nonetheless). Soloing at the end reflects a cool jazzy touch. “King of Kings” also proves solid with a power metal essence found in slower passages with symphonic keyboards and sublime if not worshipful refrain that continually repeats ‘Wonderful, Counselor, King of Kings…’ “New Heaven And New Earth” starts as if a melodic fusion-jam-shred instrumental before morphing into a full bore thrash piece, albeit with a catchy guitar riff upholding its length and the melodic proclivity returning for the instrumental moments.
Not everything works. Mad Dragzter has already demonstrated it can successfully merge thrash with a wide array of musical styles, but the rap breakdown in the middle of “Vox Spiritus Sancti” completely loses me. Thrash and rap (in my opinion) are too much of an ‘odd couple’ to form a realistic partnership. “Wrath Of God” starts its first seconds in an enticing reggae influenced direction only to descend into a whirlwind of hulking riffs and relentless speed that comes across a bit too repetitious for my taste.
Album remaining tracks, “Army Of Truth”, “Sons of Thunder”, “Man By The Pool Of Bethesda” and “From Emptiness To Infinity”, follow a similar pattern in giving rise to an all too heavy handed if not redundant feel. The four seem to flow together and come across too same-like in this regard- at least to these ears. Yes, I can see those into thrash drawn in, but I find each to lack that extra touch of melody or distinct musical nuance the better material brings to the table. Hence, the main complaint I have in regards to Master Of Space And Time in that at 15 cuts it is too long winded; I cannot help but feel the group might have been better served (and created the easier to digest listening experience in the process) by reducing it to a more efficient 10 or 11 songs instead.
Song titles and Revelation 19:15 themed cover art leave little doubt as to the faith of the individual Mad Dragzter members. Unfortunately, packaging consists of a basic ‘slip case’ that lacks lyrics and detailed liner notes. Compounding matters is that due to the thrash-based vocals it can be difficult to understand lyrics; the few lyrics referenced earlier in the review reflect said Mad Dragzter faith. Also, do not receive the impression that just because lyrics do not stand out that production is flawed. Rather, opposite holds true with a crisp but clean mix emphasizing beefy rhythm guitars and plenty of technical and high-energy rhythm section moments.
It proves problematic assigning a grade to an album in which you hit the skip button no less than six times. That said, things must be taken within their proper context in that the fact I am not normally a thrash fan might influence my skipping several tracks those into the segment might otherwise embrace. Still, any album with at least nine goods songs - such as Master Of Space And Time - has significant merit regardless of genre. My closing thought is that fans of the thrash scene make the album a necessary purchase and add 15 to 20 percentage points to the final score accordingly. If not into thrash I encourage you to approach with caution in that similar to this reviewer you could very well end up pleasantly surprised.
Review by Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Almighty” (3:17), “Valley Of Dry Bones” (4:44), “Master Of Space And Time” (4:44), “5708” (4:22), “Megiddo” (5:03), “Gehenna” (3:05), “King Of Kings” (5:01), “Army Of Truth” (4:13), “Sons of Thunder” (3:19), “The Man By The Pool Of Bethesda” (4:28), “One Nation, One Church” (4:29), “From Emptiness To Infinity” (4:17), “Vox Spiritus Sancti” (3:38), “Wrath Of God” (5:01), “New Heaven And New Earth” (4:14),
Tiago Torres - Lead Vocals & Guitars
Gabriel Spazziani - Guitars
Armando Benedetti - Bass
Eric Claros - Drums