Thrash is back. Well, for some of us, it never actually went away but it is fair to say that the last couple of years have seen something of a renaissance in all things thrash metal- whether this is in the knowingly atavistic realms of bands like Havok, the continued quality output of bands like Testament or Overkill or the dawning realisation that Nike hi tops are actually absurdly comfortable and look really cool, it scarcely matters, thrash continues to be a vibrant part of our metal universe.
The Virus Conspires is the full length debut record from Norwich’s Shrapnel, distributed by the lovely folk at Candlelight Records, and a more exciting, focussed, adrenaline fuelled thrash metal record you would be hard pressed to find.
There is a freshness to the thrash metal on offer here- part of it down to the energy of the band, part of it down to the seriousness with which they take their craft but most of it down to having put together a record that wears its influences with ease but brings a delicious nuance and variation that is very much the band’s own. I’m sure that long term students of thrash metal could point out a little bit of Testament here, a little bit of Death Angel there and a sprinkling of Megadeth pretty much everywhere but I think that would be both pointless and churlish- as if they were criticisms anyway. As you all know, they patently aren’t.
There is much to commend across the entirety of this record but, if push came to shove then I would be guiding you and your ears to the brutal malevolence of The Virus Conspires, the relentless pounding of Red Terror or the darkly evocative Pseudocommando as examples why this band have more than just a chance of success- if they keep putting together records as strong and memorable as this then we are all in for a very nice and very long ride indeed.
Actually, having lived with this record for a few weeks now, I’m going to stick my not insonsiderable neck out there and say this (PR Types: I hope you’re reading, because the hyperbole is about to start): The Virus Conspires is the best thrash album by a British band in years. This is thrash metal as serious enterprise, as piledriving force, as aural violence. Technically gifted, absurdly talented, this is energised and energising music- not an ounce of flab on it, no quarter given in its unremitting brutality, The Virus Conspires is an object lesson in the optimisation of thrash metal- Shrapnel understand the core components of what makes thrash so compelling, so addictive and so thrilling. This is exciting, riveting music: bang that head that does not bang, indeed.