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Massacre (2013)
Rating: 7.5/10

The band moniker doesn’t really give us an idea that this bruising quartet is a thrash band, featuring former members of thrash metal titans Overkill and Annihilator. So, if you like your metal heavy, well-polished and furious then Duskmachine is the perfect place to stop off.

The Berlin-based band, who were formerly known as Deception before a name change in 2004, aren’t exactly the most prolific of artists, with this self-titled ten-tracker being Duskmachine’s first release since 2005’s The Final Fall. However, when the band do get down to the nitty gritty they aren’t afraid of flexing their metallic muscles.

Ex-Annihilator guitarist Joe Comeau, also known for his work with Overkill and Liege Lord, now fronts the band and is joined by another ex-Annihilator stalwart, bassist Russell Bergquist, and alongside them we find founding members Randy Black (drums; Primal Fear / ex-Annihilator) and Nikolai Wurk (guitar).

So, what can we expect from Duskmachine? Well, considering the pedigree of the musicians involved Duskmachine doesn’t fail; it’s a hard-hitting platter that relies on a powerful, often crunching guitar. Joe Comeau’s vocals are often belted out as a power metal-styled growl, but he can also resort to a darker, gothic bellow as well as a throatier rasp. The band is equally at home rattling out a thrashier number as they are slowing the pace for a more brooding song.

Album opener ‘I Feel No Pain’ literally showcases everything that is good and dynamic about the quartet with the crystal clear production enabling each instrument to breath, especially the sharp guitar sound and engaging drums.

Most certainly fans of that more melodic style of power thrash metal will find much to savour here, with tracks such as ‘Bloodshed’ and the plodding title track adding extra dimensions to a genre that over the last few years has become a parody of itself. Duskmachine’s brand of thrash is very different to the current gang of buffoons aping the past, and this sort of album wouldn’t seem out of place slotted alongside Metal Church, Exodus, Overkill, Testament and Annihilator because in a sense it’s very much classic metal through and through, with tracks such as the pulverising ‘Endless’ really chomping at the bit to the gnaw the speakers.

Duskmachine most certainly boast a lot more soul than a lot of other current thrash bands, and even fans of U.D.O. and the likes will find this stomping metal machine quite accessible. But don’t expect a full-out thrash assault on the senses, as Duskmachine apply subtlety to their sound to create massive, cold soundscapes as in the gothic serenades of ‘Dying In My Skin’ which is more an epic thrash semi-ballad if anything, despite the monstrous guitars and bone-shattering bass.

But if you’re wondering where the thrash is going to come from, then you only have to slap on ‘Conquer All’ or the moshing chug of ‘Dripping’ to appreciate the quality and the band’s ability to take modern thrash to more bombastic avenues.

However, despite the thrash ingredient my favourite track has to be the sweeping, piano-led ballad ‘My Empty Room’ where Comeau comes into his own. This is a beautiful touch to the record that drifts off into classic hair metal territory until we’re brought down to earth with a crash by the brutal barrage of ‘Hands Of Fate’ and searing album closer ‘Escaping’, which has all the chaotic melody of Suicidal Tendencies on that initial noise.

Here’s hoping that Duskmachine get the recognition they deserve, and that we don’t have to wait too long for another instalment.

Neil Arnold

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