Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Invasion - ...And So It Begins

Looks like we have a new thrash metal debut on our hands. This time, it’s from the Swedish trio called Invasion. The actual band has been around for almost seven years, but due to other musical groups among the members, Invasion only released two demos and weren’t able to put together and release a full-length until now. Judging from the promo photos of the band and the artwork, these guys appear to be a band that’s true to the genre in its most basic form. The logo looks cool, the artwork is that of a city in apocalyptic ruins (the most common album cover in thrash metal), and the song titles represent the typical themes about war, destruction, and politics that pretty much every other thrash metal band writes about. But since I don’t let any of that shit distort the quality of the actual music, let’s jump right into …And So It Begins.

The guitars have a very broad, metallic sound that’s similar to the guitars on Overkill’s Ironbound record. The guitarist’s playing style is minimalistic, but not in a thrash metal sense. There isn’t very much really fast tremolo picking at all. If there is any really fast guitar playing, it’s a little short bit or a small section like in 50 Megatons Later, Incoming, and Dystopia Arise. This major of absence of fast guitar playing helps us appreciate the lesser-thought-about slower and choppier style of thrash metal guitar playing. But after you get about ¾ of the way through this Invasion record, you really start to notice and feel the absence of the faster guitar playing. But for some people, this style of guitar playing is just what they’re looking for, so if that’s you, this is something you should check out. Why do the guitars seem so simple and slow? Well, part of it is the drums.

I’m not quite sure how this is, but their drummer’s stage name is “Metal”. Not that stage names really mean anything, but that’s like having a musician with a stage name like “Munky”, “Dead”, “Bug”, “Clown”, or “Head”. But before I go off on a ramble about nu metal and all of the silly stage names that went along with it, let’s talk about this drummer guy, because he’s the issue I’m having. I know that he isn’t doing this on purpose, but I hear fatigue in his drumming. He’s a very chaotic drummer. If you were wondering where all the speed and chaos from the guitars disappeared to, the answer is the drummer. This guy is constantly blasting out ridiculous fills, solos, blast beats, constant double-kicking, and some of the most over-the-top thrash metal drumming you’ll ever hear. But he isn’t a good drummer. Why? Because he can’t keep time. He’s overworking himself to where I can hear him slowing down and falling out of time. And not only is it obvious and very noticeable, it’s way too frequent. Once or twice is fine, but if you’re constantly fucking up like that, you either need to re-record all of the drumming or find a record label that won’t rush you as much, because this is disappointing.

Drumming is the #1 most known trait of thrash metal. Some of the most legendary metal drummers are/were thrash drummers. Some of the most recognizable names, Lars Ulrich, Dave Lombardo, Andy Galeon, Paul Bostaph, etc. are some of the biggest drummers in the metal and rock world because of the thrash metal shit that they did. The Invasion drummer NEEDS to improve and make a more solid recording for the next album. I’m letting this one partially slide because this is Invasion’s first album and this guy shows immense skill and creativity. All he needs to do is lift some weights and work on keeping time and keeping up with what he’s trying to play.

Invasion’s only unique trait is the vocalist. His vocals are VERY rough and are borderline mid-ranged screaming. Think of a low-pitched Rob Dukes, and you’ll have a good idea of what he sounds like. Or an even better example would be the vocals on the first few Sodom albums. The grittiness of the vocals does an excellent job of bringing up the brutality of the rest of the music and giving Invasion a much edgier sound.

Other than the vocals, there isn’t really very much left to say about Invasion; everything is just as you would expect from a 21st century thrash metal band. All of the songs sound pretty much the same, but In the Trace of the Warhead, Dystopia Arise, and 50 Megatons Later each have their own catchy riffs that make them stand out a little bit from the others. If you’re a thrash metal fan, I would highly recommend this to you because there’s definitely a possibility that you could get quite a bit of enjoyment out of this brutal thrash metal record. Otherwise, I wouldn’t recommend it, but it’s surely nowhere near being bad enough for me to hope that none of you hear it. I would give this 11/20 (the extra point being added for the unique vocals and brutality). Invasion are just another thrash metal band to me. But in this album, although they’re not headed in the right direction, they sure as hell are facing in the right direction. So if they fix the drums and improve themselves, I’ll look forward to hear what they bring next.