Trample The Weak, Devour The Dead
Review by Felix on August 30, 2023.
Another very crude artwork, another thrash metal abum. (Maybe you feel that I actually wanted to write “another ugly artwork”, but my respect for Ed Repka, the creator of fantastic, legendary pictures – “Leprosy”! "World Circus"! "Eternal Nightmare"! – is too big.) Terrifier return after a long period of silence. Six years have passed since their overwhelming Weapons Of Thrash Destruction and only three of five members of the line-up at that time are still part of the band. Are the other two "drunk as f**k"? No one knows. Anyway, perhaps these losses are the reason why Trample The Weak, Devour The Dead does not reach the same dizzying heights.
Compared with its predecessor, the new full-length lacks ferocity and this element that Exodus called good friendly violent fun. No doubt, sometimes the songs get pretty intense, for example in 'Bones Of The Slain', but I must say that I am surprised with regard to some solid but comparatively tame sections. The opener is, despite its pretty furious start, not the kind of devastating explosion I expected. The dynamic bridge is surrounded by mid-paced verses and a controlled chorus. No bad song, but also no masterpiece. On the other hand, 'Depths Of The Storm Scepter' breaks necks in rows. This feast of rasping, fast guitars reveals a fantastic, surprisingly catchy flow. Its only minor weakness is the not very spectacular ending. A long instrumental part is unimaginatively faded out – however, this song makes me grin maliciously.
I like the fact that the band gives us a little hint to any song what its lyrics are about. Despite the stereotyped title, the most original lyrics are probably those of 'Dawn Of The Slaughter'. They deal with the Dyatlov Pass incident. I admit I had not heard before of this tragic (and pretty mysterious) event from the year 1959. Even if we can more or less rule out that yetis or aliens killed the group of Soviet hikers, this is an appropriate topic for thrashers. Unfortunately this is not to say that the music of 'Dawn Of The Slaughter' deserves the highest praise as well. It’s a good thrash piece with Exodus-like riffing and it is okay, but no masterpiece. 'Grinding The Blade' gives me more in view of some very intensive high speed parts, the swift and vital solo section at the end and its good arrangement.
To avoid misunderstandings, Trample The Weak… offers no fillers and is definitely no mediocre album. The Canadian trio is able to convince with its energetic approach, the mangy and occasionally hysterical vocals and the well-defined, clear yet never sterile production. It’s a modern sound and so Terrifier’s output is another work that combines contemporary recording possibilities with an old-fashioned yet not outdated style. I am not bored for a second listening to the CD. I just miss the overflowing impulsivity of the album from 2017. Maybe it’s just a question of time until I am in a position to rate this new album on its own merits. Right now, after five or six spins, I still see it standing in the shadows of Weapons… . Anyway, I have no doubt that Terrifier have the potential to release an absolutely outstanding fourth album and not “only” another good thrash output. Let’s see what we will get in 2029… or hopefully earlier.
Rating: 7.7 out of 101.33k
Review by Greg on May 21, 2023.
After delivering one of the finest albums of 2017 with their sophomore Weapons Of Thrash Destruction, things were no doubt looking good for Canadian thrashers Terrifier. Apart from its undeniable blunt force trauma factor and overwhelming drumming, said album exhibited a couple of extremely prolific guitarists that were sorely missed in the scene, since Hexen called it quits four years earlier. It's a pity, then, that the healthy landscape of revival thrash didn't see any ulterior signs of life from the guys, at least until the long-awaited third opus Trample The Weak, Devour The Dead was finally announced, not too long ago...
Indeed, despite all the above reasons to be excited, the reality is that more than 6 years have passed since Weapons Of Thrash Destruction had stormed the world, and this album's title reading like a mashup of words from the 'Violent Reprisal' lyrics set didn't look exactly refreshing. Oh, and the line-up was drastically reduced to a three-piece with the abandonment of bassist Alexander Giles and, perhaps most notably, Brent Gallant, one half of the stellar duo of axemen. Luckily, the band is in way better form than these premises might have implied. Remaining virtuoso Rene Wilkinson kept heroically soldiering on on his own, and vocalist Chase Thibodeau gladly took over bass duties as well, in between screaming his lungs out with his hysterical yelling as usual.
Now, there are differences, and it couldn't have been otherwise: Trample The Weak, Devour The Dead seems marginally more inspired by old-school thrash, and mercifully way less overproduced (which really was my main gripe with the predecessor), striking a perfect balance in the mixing and basically sporting by far the best sound they've ever caught on tape. So, there's the occasional link to their de facto debut Destroyers Of The Faith on more than one occasion – perhaps since outperforming Weapons Of Thrash Destruction in terms of extremity was arguably akin to fighting a losing battle. Kyle Sheppard is still behind the drums, though, so expect another devastating performance with frequent excursions into blast beat mode. The dude's seriously one of the most extreme drummers of the neo-thrash scene, and his tenure with the black metal project Finite in the meantime surely didn't hurt.
Strangely enough, the album isn't even front-loaded like in the past. The 'Re-Animator'-'Deceiver' tag team is still untameable, basically. But make no mistake, opener 'Trial By Combat' follows along the same lines, with a batshit insane pre-chorus above all, and Wilkinson layering himself to sound like the days of old. But the true gems come halfway through: 'Grinding The Blade' brings, gasp, an acoustic intro transitioning to a wonderful lead smoothly enough to rival the aforementioned Hexen – but it soon gives way to another scorcher filled with blunt, neck-breaking tempo changes. Even then, 'Death And Decay' is even more direct, a distillate of sheer aggression and memorability punctuated by a whirlwind of solos, probably the closest episode to their breakthrough LP and one of their best songs ever.
These three cuts are no doubt worth a couple listens, at the very least, and warrant Trample The Weak, Devour The Dead a more than positive score. Unfortunately, they also end up miles ahead of the rest of the pack. 'Awaiting Desecration' and 'Depths Of The Storm Scepter' aim for the same respective vibes of those two, but can't convey the same feeling of tracks you'd want to return to immediately after they're finished. The shortest ones, 'Bones Of The Slain' above all, feel just unfinished, and there are no more multiple solos per song to rescue them. I would hesitate to call them half-assed, since they hit, and hit awfully hard, while they're on, but that's pretty much it.
All in all, even with a half dozen years of wait, Trample The Weak, Devour The Dead gets the job of a Terrifier album done, propelled by Sheppard's usual endless supply of energy and the likewise usual lead guitar masterclass, albeit at a reduced level (the absence of Gallant, who I'd even dare to say was my favorite of the two, is still tangible). There are maybe a bit too many misses and too few truly must-listens to be an all-around great album, but it's another remorseless delivery of violence, more or less on par with Destroyers Of The Faith, with all due differences of the 10 years separating them. A Terrifier LP is always worth a listen, it goes without saying.
Rating: 7.8 out of 101.33k