In order to understand why this Reprisal album is great, we need to break down its elements and try to understand the relationship between death metal and thrash metal. The genres are incestuous in their origins, with death metal borrowing more from its younger brother, thrash. So let’s say, for the sake of brevity, you can’t have it both ways when fusing the two. The spectrum of death metal and thrash metal always starts on thrash and only persists to be more and more deathened. Typically, the elements of either are pretty stark in the riffing and sonic textures. However, in the past decade or so, we’ve come closer and closer to a spot on this spectrum where the genres intersect. This comes in the form of Revocation and to lesser degrees Exmortus, Skinfather, Arsis and Skeletonwitch. Let’s take a closer look.
In the narrow realm of ‘deathened’ thrash metal, it often skirts the lines of it’s tangled genres fluidly and with ease. Mostly it’s thrash metal with blast beats and growls. More specifically, it tries to be a bit faster and sharper as to brush shoulders with the modern death metal echelon and it’s branching subgenres. Ultimately it’s a high risk and high reward sound to pursue as a band. Play it too straight and you’re just meat and potatoes death metal. If you go too far with the ‘looseness’ of thrash, it can be too gimmicky. But if you tow the line and pursue this sound with conviction, it seems that this distinct brand of death/thrash metal comes by charm naturally. We’ve seen it with Revocation and we’re seeing it now with Reprisal.
The charm is where the music can really rest on its laurels. As the music ebbs and flows between linear death metal sections, blast beats and all, and aloof lightning-fast thrash sections, you’ll find yourself forgiving the problems that come with the territory. Death metal fatigue gives way to headbanging, epic chorus riffs and blistering Jeff Waters style guitar solos. It also dodges cheesy turn-offs like the notoriously simple guitar solos and thrash parts that are fast for the sake of it. Ultimately, None Survive the Sun often finds itself nestled comfortable in midsection of the venn diagram of death and thrash metal, with the technical chops and freedom to roam into either side of the diagram. Often it’s not easy to discern where either side falls when listening. Being able to hit the gas with tremolo picked blast beat sections or groovier, galloping thrash sections on a whim. Obviously a seamless blend is the intention, but the point being, it creates movements in the music. There’s real discernible changes in tempo for all the instruments that make this kind of music dynamic and easy to listen to. Quite a feat.
The musicianship on display is insane. There’s nothing easy about playing death or thrash metal. Harder still, is not only nailing the genres you’re aping but coming out on top with your own sound. So have Reprisal achieved something that sets them apart? It’d be impossible to answer that without mentioning their contemporaries Revocation. Reprisal sound A LOT like Revocation. Though it wouldn’t be fair to say this is plagiarism. More of a stepping off point. This isn’t a continuation of the sound so much as it’s a reimagining. Now bear with me as I take a quick aside as it will absolutely help guide the recommendation of Reprisal. Seldom are we gifted with an opportunity to articulate how this will appeal to you within the context of another bands discography. By god I’m going to take that opportunity. So fans of Revocation seem to have two distinct camps. The first thinks they peaked somewhere on the first four albums (those being Empire of the Obscene, Existence is Futile, Chaos of Forms and the self-titled) with fans appreciating the charm and goofier aspects of the music. The exaggerated parts, crazy solos and anything goes approach. The other camp championing that all of their stuff is awesome. Appreciating the core sound of the band in their later career as well as the detour filled romps of their earlier stuff. If you fall in the second camp, you’ll absolutely love this. Full stop, it’s just as tight (if not tighter) and contains all of the same elements. This is a fully realized version of that kind of death/thrash. If you’re a fan of Revocations earlier works, I’ll say that this doesn’t have the same highs as stuff like the “Dismantle the Dictator” solo or the banjo intro of “Invidious”. But it is generally better than their stuff on Deathless and Great is Our Sin. It’s overall more consistent on a track to track basis. With that being said, you would absolutely be hard pressed to not like this if you like Revocation in any capacity. This should be enjoyed along side Revocation as it’s ridiculously solid.
With only the warning of an EP released five years ago, Reprisal have burst into a challenging niche, brushing shoulders with some of modern metal’s most established acts. None Survive the Sun is a vicious helping of fast, unrelenting death and thrash metal that still manages to find that enticing groove you can headbang to. Don’t let this fly under your radar. Especially if you found yourself turned off by the whimsy of Revocation’s earlier material.
None Survive the Sun will be released on March 30th through Hostile Media, and is available for pre-order on the label’s website.