Assaulter - _Salvation Like Destruction_
(Pulverized Records, 2008)
by: Colleen Burton (7 out of 10)
These Australian thrashers employ phlegmy black metal vocals to power through this release with an appropriately grainy style of production and an air of minimalism and old-school goodness ubiquitous through the buzzing guitars. Heavy, somewhat epic riffing stringing together some of the strongest elements of several genres, _Salvation Like Destruction_ may well eventually serve as a standard of comparison within this fusion genre with its less-than-common mid-tempo attack.

"Talon and Teeth" is most demonstrative of said mastery as drums drive the blistering thrash sound to contrast with the bleak vocals, nor does the five-minute track grow dull or regurgitate past rhythms, guaranteed to hook by the time "The Axiom Star" begins. Assaulter pushes out their unrefined tracks with lo-fi drums continuously smacking away behind the guitars towards awesome, foot-stomping breakdowns, peppered with S. Berserker's howls and surprisingly intelligible black metal lyrics. There's certainly no low-end here, barely even use of the bass drum, but that's not incredibly unusual given certain black metal constraints. The under-produced nature of this album is like a breath of fresh air whilst other bands are trying to mix their albums out into new dimensions of sound, and the raw energy conveyed is infectious. "Glory Alone" contains all the drive behind any epic battle encomium, working more towards a sinister black result than any sort of face-melting thrash, borrowing seemingly from Celtic Frost.

The album seems to get less thrashy as it goes along, combining the pacing of Voivod with vocals remindful of Sarcofago or Melechesh; "Awe of Fire" would sound perfectly at home on a black metal compilation, apart from the obligatory catchy breakdown. "Vengeance Whips" will undoubtedly make you prick up your Sodom-ized ears, demonstrating that the Australians are quite capable of that sort of speedy, choppy playing. "Between Gods and Men" rounds things off on a mammoth note punctuated by crashing drums.

Admittedly, more well-known blackened thrash acts like Toxic Holocaust tend to play more quickly and with more emphasis on the bottom end, and they have a principally different sound in being closer to the thrash end of things as opposed to the black. Yet while _Salvation Like Destruction_ may not wind up being a massive crowd pleaser, it will enliven the tastes of fans who stand across the breadth of several genres.


(article published 5/7/2009)

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