I know, I know, I’ve been touting a lot of thrash metal lately. But, hey! 2015 has been a great year for it!
However, I think there’s something worth admitting: there’s a thrash formula, and I’d say a good majority of bands in the genre stick to that formula pretty ardently. Only recently in metal have bands tried to play against the grain and do things differently than Megadeth or Slayer have done.
Now, formulaic thrash isn’t a bad thing, in my opinion, as long as it’s done with some hint of originality. How could that be, though? Think of it like a coloring book; you have the outlines ready, you just need to color it, and you’re free to use whatever color you want (unless you’re that asshole that insists on making Elmo red and Cookie Monster blue).
Still with me? Desaster is a German metal band that plays more traditional thrash, but does it with solid musicianship and writing. They don’t deviate from the overall structure of thrash much, though some riffs—the intro of “Proclamation in Shadows” from their latest album The Oath of an Iron Ritual comes to mind as a good example—have a minor black metal tinge to them. The singer to me sounded a little like Max Cavalera, which I count as a plus; if you didn’t know better, it could easily be early Sepultura (albeit with better production).
What really sold me, though, aside from the music, was the artwork for The Oath of an Iron Ritual and the band’s logo, the latter of which is a reprint of John Martin’s painting Pandaemonium, used in an edition of Milton’s Paradise Lost.
While I don’t think this is the best thrash release so far—personally, Izegrim’s new album has taken that proverbial cake for me—Oath is nonetheless a solid example of thrash, and proof that great music can come from formula. After all, it’s all about the musician’s take on what’s already been established.