Thursday 27 June 2019

Örk Bastards - Warmongers of the Gloomy Lands (2019)

Country: Russia
Style: Thrash Metal
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 10 Apr 2019
Sites: Bandcamp | Metal Archives | VK

No, I'm not going to pass up an opportunity to listen to an album by a band who call themselves Örk Bastards! How glorious is that? This bunch are from Petrozavodsk, which is so far northwest in Russia that it's almost Finland, and they play their thrash in short bursts with a back to basics punk vibe and a singer who could easily moonlight in a black metal band. This album has ten tracks and it still only just nudges past the half an hour mark.

If the name didn't sell me anyway, there are intriguing song titles to add interest. Green People of Barsoom has to be about the native Martians in the John Carter novels of Edgar Rice Burroughs. I wonder if the band are fans of the original novels or whether they were part of why the Disney movie did so well in Russia. I presume 32 Secrets of Vimaana is about the ancient Indian spaceships detailed in the epic Vedas. And then there's Rabid She-Wolf and her Furious Blade, which sounds so glorious that someone should turn it into a short film and submit it to my film festival. These are subjects close to my heart!

And then these Örk Bastards blister through their intro and I was hooked. I have to say that I prefer cleaner vocals on my thrash but A.N.'s harsh voice fits well with their simpler punky thrash sound. There's nothing fancy here on an album that's the precise opposite of progressive metal. It's a routine collection of fast tempo riffs with a few transitions and it's not going to blow anyone's mind, but it's done with passion and urgency and efficiency. This is the sort of thrash that you throw on at high volume and let it just clean you out.

That's not to say that it's not played well because it is. The whole album's worthwhile from the simple but effective riffs that drive Baptized by Smoke and Fire and Green People of Barsoom to the final few tracks which are oddly my favourites. 32 Secrets of Vimaana nails a blistering pace. Travellers in Time adds a bouncy feel which is fun at high speed. And then they add a neat melodic line to Obsidian Shining, which really got my neck moving.

In between, there are some slower songs, like the aforementioned Rabid She-Wolf and Her Furious Blade, which is closer to NWOBHM than thrash, but it's the fast songs that make this work so well. The band find a tempo at which to chug along for each song and then speed it up because that's what thrash is all about. It's good old fashioned heads down speed and I merely wish I knew who was in the band that plays it.

I believe that A.N. also plays bass and the drummer is a gentleman by the name of Naastmorkh, but there are guitars here too and I have no idea who's responsible for those. Then again, they don't get as much to do as would be the case on most albums. When a solo erupts on Obsidian Shining, we wonder where it came from because there just aren't many of those on this album. I have to say that it's one of the only two songs that exceeds four minutes, so maybe they thought they had time. There was another one during the last quarter of Green People of Barsoom but A.N. shrieks over most of it.

This is good stuff on a first listen, when all that leaps out is the speed, but it's good stuff on repeat too, when we let the riffs sink deep into our brains and we realise that it starts good and keeps on getting better. The only downside for me were the deep shrieky vocals, which aren't bad but also aren't my preference. If they're yours, then this might be exactly what you need to clean out your system at the end of a long day.

Now, given that they've been around since 2007 but this is their debut, how about a follow up a little sooner than 2031?

1 comment:

  1. Mr Magister was in charge of guitars and bass lines on this album.