Sound — 7
With the recent popularity of bands like Municipal Waste and forgotten thrash albums by the likes of Atrophy and Vio-Lence, younger bands are popping up all over the world that incorporate an '80s informed thrash sound. One of the stronger acts who have risen from this heap is Avenger Of Blood. Even though they are based in Las Vegas, you would never guess from their sound. This combo has more in common with German bands like Kreator and Assassin than they do with their American counterparts. Keeping with this particular influence, AOB keeps the proceedings moving at a frenzied pace. With the exception of the mid-paced slugging during the verses of "Bloodseeker," the songs blast forth intensely. Vocalist/guitarist Eric (no last names given) possesses a snarl that was custom made for the brand of metal they specialize in. Imagine Mille Petrozza's (Kreator) vocal delivery with clearer pronunciation and you'll be on the money. Some of the solos, with their constant note bending and whammy bar squeals, reminded me of Kerry King's finer moments. Look no further than the screeching solo in Sadistic Inquisitor for evidence of that. The production, done by the band, definitely brings to mind the work of Flotsam & Jetsam producer Bill Metoyer with it's dry, compressed guitar tones. Next time out some more separation and bottom end would benefit the band's material.
Lyrics — 7
Death Brigade isn't so much a concept album as it's a collection of songs that deal with very similar themes. Opening track "Vicious Onslaught" sets the violent tone and the subject of war sprouts up throughout the ten tracks. Most of the lyrics are written from the perspective of a battling soldier so you get a first person account direct from the front lines. The track "Terminate" is so menacing that it jumps off the speakers like a missing scene from Apocalypse Now. Taking a page from metal legends Manowar, AOB dedicate the song "Poserslaughter" to the total annihilation of "fake" metalheads. A call to arms of sort, the song will surely incite crowd sing-alongs and probably become a staple of their live show. It will be interesting to see what direction the band will take their lyrical themes to on their next release because they seem to have exhausted the possibilities in this lyrical arena.
Overall Impression — 7
Having never heard the band before this CD arrived in my mailbox, I was very surprised to see how much they have been influenced by the sounds of my youth. Despite their age, location and upbringing, they owe more to bands like old-school European bands like Sodom and Assassin than they do any of their American counterparts. Sure, they aren't the only new band that has adopted a revisionist thrash sound. Bands like Bonded By Blood and Fueled By Fire have quickly built a formidable following with a traditional sound. What sets Avenger Of Blood apart is their faster tempos and attack. This is the exact thing that the current metal renaissance was in desperate need of; variety. Whether this young combo stick to this particular brand of metal remains to be seen but here's to hoping they do!