There are few things in the metal world that range as wide as thrash metal. Thrash runs the gamut from the serious to the silly. Progressive and technical thrash bands write sprawling epics about deep emotional, sociological, or political ideas, and there are crossover thrash bands who spit on the idea of writing songs longer than a minute. Some bands embrace both ideas in equal measure such that they become bands who understand both the serious and silly sides of music. In a way, it becomes a true expression of an artist. Calgary’s Hazzerd leans into all aspects of thrash metal and also puts their own spin on things.
Hazzerd has been belting out old school thrash for 7 years now. Their songwriting style ranges across the spectrum in both subtle and obvious ways, but their main sound is more in line with the Exodus style of early crossover thrash. It’s not blistering speed songs, just more about the feel of the song overall. The comparison is also apt because of their focus. Hazzerd certainly takes on the big issues in politics and society, but they can also present things with a pretty appropriate amount of humor that helps the medicine go down. This has been their specialty so far, and things are no different on the group’s sophomore release, Delirium.
There’s nothing like a little brashness to send you into the late 80s heyday of balls-to-the-wall thrash metal. “Sacrifice Them (In the Name of God)” starts off with dual guitar tapping. You know you’re in for something good from the get-go. A lot of the rest of the song, and most of the record, makes me think of a combination of thrash metal and Iron Maiden. It has that combination of over the top metallic drama and underground attitude that makes this universally loved by anyone into the 80s metal sound.
Hazzerd is also more than just a bag of throwback tricks. These dudes know their stuff and are drawing on a wide range of influences and ideas. “Call of the Void” shows off several aspects of the sound these guys employ. It’s a different song entirely, but I couldn’t help but think of Metallica’s “Orion”. It’s a dramatic and progressive instrumental track with a lot of emotion and soul. The guitar solo isn’t just wailing for the sake of sounding fast. Each note throughout the song means something in a similar vein. It plays with rhythms in ways that also remind me of more modern metalcore kinds of thrash. To be able to incorporate so many different kinds of motifs and make it all work together is pretty impressive and definitely keeps your mind engaged beyond mere gimmicks.
Every track on this record is a fun ride through thrash metal. There’s a lot of the late 80s praise on here for sure, but there’s also a lot of modern sounds. Some of the songs on Delirium reminded me of Paladin. There are these little power metal-style breakdowns throughout the record that then forge ahead into death-defying speed riffs. Flashes of crossover are throughout Delirium, too. Specifically the track “Dead in the Shed” (a personal favorite of mine). All in all, you really couldn’t ask for a better thrash record in 2020.
If this is how the year in thrash metal starts out, then we’re in for a good one. Delirium has all those little references you love about this genre with little twists along the way to keep you interested. It’s a record that spans the gamut of thrash metal to show where it can go. Most importantly, it’s just fun to listen to. What more could you ask for?
Delirium is available Jan. 24 via M-Theory Audio.