Defleshed - _Fast Forward_
(War Records, 1999)
by: Matthias Noll (
Wasn't I the one who complained about retro metal in exactly this issue? Yet I give 8 points to Defleshed, a band that has this confrontational word stamped on their foreheads. But I'm not making a difference between retro thrash and retro power metal here. There's another difference, the one which actually matters. Basically, Defleshed's music is based on classic thrash metal riffing. Think of a fusion of Destruction, _Infernal Overkill_ era, with top notch mid-eighties Bay Area thrash. A fast and furious guitar dominates this record and shreds through all the songs without ever stopping its relentless barrage of pure amplified aggression. While now and then riffs do indeed sound familiar, there's a whole load of brilliant moments and surprising twists and turns that will leave every thrash metal addict gasp for air before continuing with insane headbanging. The rhythm section supports the violence with a mixture of blast speed passages and straight high speed drumming, reminiscent of the early death/thrash hybrids like Malevolent Creation. The overall production is excellent and while the snare drum is a tiny bit too hollow, the devastating six string sound more than compensates that. The vocals, you might have guessed it, come across like Mille with rabies and are my first point of criticism. Quite often do they sound repetitive, formulaic and even pretentious. Yeah, they work well and completely fit the music, but with a better singer, one with more personality, this record would haven been better. The other gripe I have is a certain lack of variety. All songs are performed at breakneck speed or faster and do not sound too different from each other. The album length of 30 minutes (the _Reign in Blood_ benchmark) works in favor of the overall impression, but I still feel that the addition of two high quality mid-tempo tracks would have made this record a 9 instead of 8 out of 10. This aside, _Fast Forward_ is a prime example of how music can of course be "retro" without being an annoying imitation. Take the best from the past, play it faster, more aggressively and better than the originators, add a minimum of up to date ingredients (blast speed parts, production) and, if done well, what you get is a record which every self-respecting thrasher, no matter if she or he is born in the '60s, '70s or '80s, should add to his collection. Thrash or die!
(article published 1/15/2000)
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