Speedblow - _Behold the Darkness_
(Trailblazer Records, 2014)
by: Chaim Drishner (7.5 out of 10)
Speedblow is a rather nice surprise regarding the stagnation thrash metal has been suffering from for the last two decades. Once this reviewer's personal favorite sub-genre of metal, there has since been a constant, progressive process of falling out of love with thrash, probably because it no longer offered anything worthy that would render it listenable. Even Necrodeath's 1999 resurrection album _Mater of All Evil_ couldn't resuscitate the corpse of thrash metal. Sure, there have been hints here and there throughout the years, attempts at reviving a dead style, but those were mostly the throes of a dying man than a real comeback.

Greek band Speedblow's _Behold the Darkness_ is nevertheless a bold endeavor trying to mount the high walls of thrash's redundancy and proving this ancient metal 'movement' is by no means obsolete. Speedblow could be singled out from the happy bunch of comical modern (retro) thrash outfits, because its stance on thrash is different and because this band is much better than the contemporary thrash imitators.

Speedblow don't try to sound like older, 'classic thrash' groups; they own a genuinely vintage sound and style. Their style is epic, but not 'pure breed', so to speak. The music Speedblow deliver is tainted with hardcore punk and power metal aesthetics, in addition to showcasing some nice folk interludes thanks to awesome sounding acoustic guitar passages.

The most staggering element is the interesting riffs and the excellent rhythm guitar that always sounds crunchy and powerful. The vocalist's performance tips the balance toward classic hardcore with his half shouts and half growls, but the complexity of the song structuring removes _Behold the Darkness_ from hardcore's simplicity and repetitive nature.

This album is definitely a grower, albeit its acute melodic infrastructure, and as far as the rhythmic and emotional aspects are concerned, _Behold the Darkness_ is a roller-coaster of rhythmic manipulation due to its incessant tempo changes, as well as an emotional chameleon that wears and sheds sonic customs as the riffs progress.

If we had to make comparisons, sound and etiquette-wise, _Behold the Darkness_ stands somewhere between Believer's _Sanity Obscure_ and the early recordings of The Haunted; but don't take that comparison too literally, as Speedblow owns individualistic merits that are unique: the band manage to blend thrash metal with almost any other sub-genre of metal (heavy and speed metal, melodic death metal, hardcore punk, crossover) in a way that's much more successful when listened to in reality, than it sounds in theory; an amalgamation of styles that sounds like an anthology of metal's best moments, spiced up by a healthy dose of groove, a handful of melodic hooks and a general epic, greater-than-life stance.

The vocalist -- the only factor here that might put you off from enjoying the music -- accommodates his hardcore-ish growls to the heavy metal music quite rapidly; enter song number two, you won't even notice his performance is somewhat misplaced. Give this album enough time to work its magic upon you, and you will love the vocals, polarized as they may be.

_Behold the Darkness_ is a worthy album to listen to and enjoy; it blends rare dynamics, vintage bluesy sound and a superb songwriting ability. Sure, the backbone of the album is thrash metal, but the intricacy of the tunes as well as the many other metallic elements incorporated so well into the mix, make this album so much more. In the end it all boils down to pure metallic fun!

Contact: http://speedblow.bandcamp.com/

(article published 22/7/2014)

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