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…Of Reign And Demise

Self-released (2017)
Rating: 8.5/10

…Of Reign And Demise is the second outing for German death thrashers Intoxicum, and it comes seven years after 2010’s Parasites debut; so hopefully the wait has been worth it? Well, straight from the off we’re treated to an atmospheric, slow-building introduction before the four-piece goes into full flow, and it’s one that impresses.

Intoxicum have a dry, stuffy sound (possibly due to lack of budget) which adds to the atmosphere of this very good ten-track affair. The fantastic cover art – like something from the mid-to-late 80s – doesn’t really give us an idea as to what is contained within. But once you do dive in you’ll be greeted by an extremely accessible opus that blends together death-coated thrash, and the more I listen to it the more I love it.

The first track is the menacing and mostly mid-tempo ‘The Spanish Eye Ripper’; a great choice of subject for a track that exudes suspense, but there’s plenty of compressed grooves on offer too. In fact, it would be unfair to call this style of music simply death thrash. Sure, there are faster segments and at times there’s a hoarseness to the vocal expressions, but the mid-tempo chug fests are truly hypnotic; combining methodical, thinking man’s drudgery with galloping and almost traditional metal flips. But it’s a hard one to pigeon hole.

Generally, there’s a no frills ballsy metal approach to the proceedings, and yet with so many little surprises waiting in the wings, as evident on that opener and certainly more so on ‘Homunculus (A Lesson In Logic)’; a killer tune of varying shades, with an unusual solo here, a grey stabbing chug there, and then a stray into the likes of Pestilence and even Swedish extreme metal areas.

Third track ‘2000 Years’ certainly brings the deathlier traits. The drum is an insistent prod and the vocals are a deadly bark, but again the groove in general is massive – mid-paced bludgeoning with such instant chops before the deadlier pace kicks in. In fact, Intoxicum’s latest outing boasts a sound you may feel familiar to, but maybe it’s that amalgamation of styles which enables the band to drift so effortlessly and again, as with ‘2000 Years’, the guitar is just king. There’s also a traditional into power metal segment which gets me every time, breaking away from that harsher clime.

One certainly senses a degree of angst throughout, but as the album progresses so does the quartet. The punky upstart of ‘Crowned Donkeys’ features a kick-ass drum jerk and then an overall sound of muscularity à la Prong, but with deadlier scathing running through its veins.

Boy is this melodic yet beefy stuff, hinting at some sort of mid-to-late ’90s groove and yet something way too cool to be thrown in with the fads and trends. Instead, it’s seemingly very simple – four guys churning out a tight, flailing edgy crossover of extreme styles, even with black / death metal tinges. But it just never rests, and that’s something that wins me over; the fact that this isn’t even a complex record, but one which flows through a myriad of styles while always maintaining a streetwise style.

Imagine if you will a side-project of some death metal stalwart happy to return to his classic metal roots. ‘Same Shit, Different Century’ confirms this, as does the frothing ‘Self-Oppression’ and closer ‘Acoustic Emetic’; a flailing, wild thrashing death blast. But even by the time the final cymbal is crushed I’m eager to dive back in, realising how greedy I am for this seemingly straight-forward, yet mesmerising chunk of beefed up metal of many ingredients.

Neil Arnold

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