Thursday 23 January 2020

Decimator - Alienist (2020)

Country: Brazil
Style: Thrash Metal
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 17 Jan 2020
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After the peace of Diagonal, I felt like a good thrash album to clean out my system and where better to go for that sort of experience than Brazil? This third album from Decimator is just what the doctor ordered. They're not even close to subtle and, while they do vary tempos a great deal, I don't think a slow moment can be found anywhere on this album. The ten tracks on offer are done in half an hour because their style ranges from intense to very intense and I'm all for that. I feel rejuvenated.

They hail from Porto Alegre, which is even further south than São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. They're closer to Uruguay than I am to Mexico and that means pretty close. They were founded as far back as 1999 but they didn't release their debut album, Killing Tendency until 2007. Bloodstained followed it in 2011 and the only change in the line-up in the nine years since then is that vocalist Leonardo Schneider is no longer with the band and guitarist Paolo Hendler has taken on that role too within the structure of a four piece.

The subject matter this time out is firmly in Agent Steel territory: aliens and abductions and the like. How can anyone resist a title like Vivisection of a Specimen with Opposable Thumbs Taken from the 3rd Planet of Tp4c4152 Star System? That goes double for the fact that it runs under three minutes. At the risk of stretching that metaphor too, they take us out of this world almost immediately, with Lift-Off starting at high speed after the intro.

What impressed me first, apart from the pace and the changes, is how firmly the riffs are defined in this production. This song feels really fast and I can only imagine the pit it would generate, but the core riff is slower and very efficient. While one guitar is speeding off into the stratosphere with the drums, the bass and the second guitar are building the song with riffs. At times, of course, the lead guitar slows down to match and those sections churn really nicely.

And, at the risk of being a lazy critic, the next eight songs don't do much different. They start fast and they finish fast, with plenty of solid riffs, time changes and churning mosh sections in between. Hendler's voice is very rough and reminiscent of early Mille Petrozza; its sheer energy level is a perfect match for the music unfolding behind him. That's also reminiscent of Kreator but there's as much Slayer in there too.

So, if you're looking for a half hour of sheer blitzkrieg, this is certainly a good choice. Decimator are well named. They're the sort of band who wait for a couple of support bands to warm up the audience a little, then destroy everyone for half an hour and vanish, leaving the headlining act to have to up their game just to follow them.

If you're looking for acoustic song intros, ten minute instrumentals or some sort of esoteric local flavour, you're in the wrong place. If you want songs that take much more than three minutes to wrap up (nothing reaches four and only Lift-Off exceeds three and a half), you're in the wrong place. If your take on thrash involves subtlety in any way, then you're in the wrong place.

What Decimator do is what's perhaps best epitomised by Alien Spring. It's a short blistering song built out of simple but strong riffs. It's fast out of the gate but it gets faster as it goes, except for the slower bits that dot the song like challenges for the band. The vocals will tear at your throat, the solo will blister paint off your walls and the rhythm section under it all is so damn tight it almost hurts.

I air drummed along with what Alceu Martin does here until I couldn't move my feet any more and none of this would sound remotely as heavy if Patricia Bressiani's ever-reliable bass wasn't there adding an extra level. And then they hit another song and we're off and running again before we've caught a breath. Taken is my other favourite here, because there are parts where the guitars are speeding off into the distance and Alceu Martins actually slows the drums to tease us for a moment before following suit.

My problem with this wasn't that it's short on originality and subtlety. I like both a lot but there are times when I just want my ass kicked for half an hour and that's why albums like this exist. My problem wasn't even that it's over that quickly, because it's longer than Reign in Blood and nobody cares about how short that was because they just flipped the tape and played it again. My problem is that I want to see this band live tonight and I'm a seventeen hour flight away.

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