Aratron - _Horrifying Visions_
by: St. John Satansson (4 out of 5)
Aratron's _Horrifying Visions_ demo EP is black and grey, and glancing at this cheerless miasma, the bones of some dead beast and the rotting body of some humanoid are nestled beneath Aratron's murky logo. So, this looks like a primitive black metal album.

Next stop, the press release. Aratron are apparently a death metal band with black metal influences. OK, that just about fits, into the computer it goes. I am braced for chilly, tremolo picking, thundering blasts and atonal buzz saws going hell bent for leather.

Seconds in, and it is apparent that I've been misled. The guitars have that warm _South of Heaven_ chug, only with more guts and bite, and they dominate the mix in a suitable and effective way. The solos are bright and cut through nicely to showcase some strong playing. The bass and drums sound more low-fi, but are powerful and tonally rich. The sound is beefy, engaging and riff-tastic. Vocals gurgle and groan in a strange but effectively low-mid monotone, and while it doesn't sound as if vocalist Ronald van Baren is passing a gallstone mid-take, what we get instead is a commanding and atmospheric delivery. After a few listens it feels like the album gets better as it progresses, and the final two tracks stand out nicely as ones to keep.

What this is, ladies and gentlemen, is a prime example of judging an album by its cover on my part. There is nary a whiff of Norwegian forestry about this once one has braved the artwork. As soon as "Brutality Reigns Supreme" launches out at us, we know immediately that it's beer drinking, head banging time. _Horrifying Visions_ is a meaty, mighty excercise in good, solid, thrashing death metal; perhaps deathened-thrash (or thrashened-death -- whatever).

The last track, the wonderfully titled "The Revolting Stench of Death", leans down the left hand path more than the rest of the material, but even this breaks down into a Testament-y groove in the mid section. This is what Aratron do well: great, big, groovin', kick-ass, thrash-bastard riffage. Just to underscore the Slayer vibes, the drums even have that Lombardo-esque, ahead of the beat, trainwreck feel in the faster sections.

So then, perhaps next time some Ed Repka stylings and a less bleak photograph; there's a positivity and a gutsy, metal spirit to Aratron's music which isn't being conveyed at first glance on _Horrifying Visions_. Besides, they could certainly give the "thrash is back" mob a kick up the arse. Right now, I'm gonna grab another beer and listen to this again.


(article published 22/12/2010)

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