Review by Carl on February 6, 2024.
On offer here are two bands that would go on to try to put the country of France on the extreme metal map, Loudblast and Agressor. Both would go on to reach a modest rate of success, but I do not have the impression that either got beyond the level of insider tip. At least not much further than their home country or its neighbors, it seems.
Kicking off proceedings are Loudblast, an act that sounds pretty thrash metal orientated here, but would adopt more of a death metal edge further on in their career. Honesty dictates me to admit that I never was that impressed by them, for me they always remained an act that was merely 'OK', and nothing more, really. As mentioned, these early recordings by the band sees them operating in thrash metal territory, kinda akin to other acts like Belgium's Cyclone, Germany's Darkness, Estigia from Spain, while at their most fierce, I hear Sweden's Merciless popping up as well. Their brand of metal is very riff-driven, giving me this sped-up Bay Area thrash feeling, and makes use of a lot of different parts, tempo's and breaks. At times they go fast, other times they do their thing at midtempo, then speed it up again, and so on. It's the kind of stuff you need to take your time for to let it all sink in, and that's not really my bag, you know. It must be said that these guys are way above decent musicians, as evidenced by the great solo's and excellent execution, but the bulk of their material doesn't do much for me, I'm afraid. It's just too busy and crowded, music-wise, but the bland gruff thrash vocals of Stéphane Buriez get on my nerves a bit as well. However, I do admit that there is one outlier, and that is the second cut "Let the Blood Run Red", that starts off as a slow Voivod song, but speeds up to a decent German thrash style banger, to culminate in a beefed up Megadeth inspired section, with some lethal riffing and lead work present. It's by far the one Loudblast track that had me raising my eyebrows and mouthing "Yeah!" to myself. The rest of their stuff not so much, though.
I have more appreciation for their compatriots Agressor. Taking more of their cues from the early works of Bathory, Kreator, Wehrmacht, Sadus, Minotaur and Sodom, this stuff is faster, simpler, and a good deal more aggressive than what Loudblast delivered on the A-side of this LP. It has speedy riffing, an audible bass that sounds crunchy as hell, a vicious croaking vocal style, and a drummer that gives me the impression like he was raised on strong coffee loaded with handfuls of sugar and meth, delivering a truly frenzied performance. The overal execution is somewhat rough around the edges, and not all of the transitions between the different sections go as smooth, but that is made up for by the enthusiasm the band displays throughout their side of the record. It's not all relentless thrash all the time, though. In a track like "Bloodfeast", Agressor lets the influence of old US speed/thrash bands like Hallows Eve, Abattoir, and the first few Metallica and Exodus albums trickle in, and this to great effect, giving the abrasive thrash/death metal some variation and room to breathe. It's a welcome something on an offering that is brimming with belligerence and near unchecked aggression.
Both bands would go on to release further albums, to eventually break up in the course of the 90's, as well as reforming later on to continue where they left off. As I said earlier, Loudblast never really managed to capture my interest to the fullest, capable as they are at what they do. This is purely a matter of personal taste, because I know people who hold them in very high regard. Agressor did manage to get my attention with their absolutely awesome "Neverending Destiny" debut album, an offering of high speed thrash/death metal that should not be missed by anyone with any heart for the style, it's just that incredible. After that, the music became more intricate, and while still good, it never topped their debut for me.
This split LP shows both bands at the crude and somewhat naive beginning of their journey, and that makes this an interesting recording well enough, but to get the full scope of what both are about, their albums are probably the most reliable routes to discovery.
Rating: 7 out of 1090