Black Fast – Spectre of Ruin

Few things in metal go together better than thrash and black. Black metal essentially evolved from thrash when the two were initially entwined in the first wave, and the second wave embraced some aspects of it via a full rejection of death metal as “fake”. While that may seem like an extremely subjective reason to disregard an entire group from your community, it did push the two subgenres closer together. Now we have a host of bands who combine these elements to push forth a new extreme metal, and Black Fast is doing a lot to bring the two ideas closer together.

The band out of St. Louis is back for their third outing, creating a very technical form of blackened thrash with an emphasis on tight riffing and extremely driving rhythms. In many ways, Black Fast follows in the footsteps of Skeletonwitch, albeit in a far more technical form. While Skeletonwitch focuses on melodies and songwriting, Black Fast is all about the almighty riff and creating a dark environment in which they can thrive and grow. On top of that, this whole album is pure raw fury. They never let up. It’s all crunchy riffs supported by percussive blasts with vocalist Aaron Akin screeching over the whole onslaught. There’s not a moment of melodic bridging, string interludes, or shoegazing guitar effects. It just drives over you like a well-oiled machine and it doesn’t bother to see if you’re alright. It just keeps on driving down the road at a breakneck speed.

Any of the songs on the album will show off this sound, but the band dropped “Cloak of Lies” in May and it’s the best example of the entire album. This song has no introduction. It simply starts off by plowing you over with its aggression. Not even a count off! You’re immediately hit with what you might call a melodic thrash riff (if indeed any kind of true thrash can be considered melodic). Akin shouts about diseased asylums, establishing a fantastically blackened theme the pervades the entire album. The song has a very malevolent tone. Not only is it evil, but it’s also angry. It’s aggressive to a fault, but the band is able to control and direct that feeling into a conducive sound and theme.

There’s really only one criticism of the album: this is basically the sound of the entire record. Black Fast may tout the fact that there’s no “nonsense” on Spectre of Ruin, but that also means the sound doesn’t change much. It’s a bit of a one-trick pony. Spectre does pretty much one thing: straightforward aggressive blackened thrash metal. No frills, no extras, and you don’t even get fries with your order. It’s not exactly meat and potatoes since it’s still extreme metal, but the analogy does ring true in the sense that the band told you what this album was going to be and that’s what they gave you.

However, that shouldn’t necessarily be seen as a negative. Just because you only do one thing really well doesn’t mean what you do is bad. Most of Spectre of Ruin is driving drum beats underneath alternating thrash chugging and more melodic and technical riffing combined with shouting vocals. But what’s so bad about that? If you’re a thrash fan, you’ll be in heaven. Records and bands playing more traditional forms of thrash don’t come around very often, so you have to take what you can get. But with Black Fast, what you get is pretty great. If this is the kind of sound you’re into, then give it a shot. You won’t be disappointed.

Spectre of Ruin is available 7/13 via eOne. 

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