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Heroes Of Origin

Massacre (2013)
Rating: 8.5/10

I’m finding it rather surreal that so many new, young thrash bands are emerging and creating quite a scene. I guess it’s a good thing that so many of them are heavily influenced by the 80s thrash scene, whether it’s the San Francisco Bay Area crunch or the European speed metal.

Even so, I also find the trend rather irritating, because so many of the new breed are simply imitating rather than creating. Every time I hear a thrash album by a new band, I find myself resorting back to my original 80s vinyl. The new, yet clearly derivative stuff makes me realise just how timeless acts such as Testament, Death Angel, Nuclear Assault, Overkill, Kreator etc are.

But the greatest thing about the thrash scene of today is the fact that so many of the original legends are still plying their trade. These guys ploughed on through the grunge invasion and stuck to their guns through the nu-metal fad, and now are showing the kids how it’s done. Destruction, Kreator, Testament, Exodus et al are playing faster, bigger and badder than ever before.

One such metal veteran to emerge from the ashes of the 80s scene is former Exodus frontman Steve “Zetro” Souza who now stars in Hatriot, a full-bloodied new thrash band who have every right to sound like they are still in the 80s. Like the already mentioned bands, and so many others from the era, Hatriot are true old school thrash, and Souza has one of the most distinctive voices in metal. His rasp graced several classic Exodus records, including Pleasures Of The Flesh back in 1987, but now he’s back, alongside his two sons, Cody (bass) and Nick (drums), to rip your face off once again.

Hatriot can best be described as Bay Area thrash, very much in that Exodus style of bone-shattering and blood bludgeoning insanity. The riffs of Miguel Esparza and Kosta Varvatakis are a lethal dose to the system, crunched up to full volume and made all the more crisp by the fantastic production. If you’re not familiar with Souza’s electric rasp then one can only describe it as AC/DC’s Bon Scott on steroids, often hyper in its warble and yet refreshing.

Hatriot are a violent mix of chanted chugs, moshing mania and full sped slaughter, particularly on ‘Blood Stained Wings’ which initially reminds me of Slayer’s ‘Angel Of Death’ (from 1986’s Reign In Blood), both in its structure and melody. Couple this with an Overkill-style pounding and you may catch the drift.

Of course, there are a few Exodus comparisons; ‘The Mechanics Of Annihilation’ is a full-throttle skull thumper featuring some earth-shaking drums from Nick Souza who rarely has time to breath amidst his unearthly barrage. Again, the guitars are crystal clear as Cody’s bass rumbles with brutal effect. At once I’m transported back to the 80s thrash scene, but also joyously and aggressively slapped in the face by modern dynamics which make this album such a tour de force.

Varvatakis and Esparza really do batter the senses with those riffs and leads. ‘The Violent Time Of My Dark Passenger’ enters the ear drums as a clinical chug before lurching into a melodic gallop where Nick shines once again with those drums. Steve snarls over this, spitting venom from the speakers. And then there’s ‘Murder American Style’, which really stings the flesh with its approach as it wrenches the 80s thrash scene into the modern era.

Heroes Of Origin has so much to offer, enabling the old school structures and attitude to trade punches with 21st century progression. Clearly the Souza sons have metal in their blood, but it’s also great to hear that “Zetro” still has the passion, let alone the throat to vomit out furious tracks such as ‘And Your Children To Be Damned’ and the brilliant title track.

Overall then, a rollicking good listen that’ll have you wiping the blood from your ears and then diving in for another spin of the vicious; true nuclear assault of the soul.

Neil Arnold

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