Friday 17 January 2020

Inculter - Fatal Visions (2019)

Country: Norway
Style: Thrash Metal
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 12 Apr 2019
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A thrash group I belong to here on Facebook saw a lot of members post their top ten thrash albums of 2019 and Inculter often featured in those lists. I think the first one I saw also included the Dust Bolt and Exumer albums that I thought were excellent, so I was happy to take a listen to this one too. I have to say that I'm even happier to say that it's also excellent, an urgent and visceral album from Norway that reminded me a lot of early Slayer.

It feels old school immediately. The instruments speed along as if this is a race and there will be a prize for getting there first. The vocals are in a proto-extreme style from the early to mid eighties that hints at what death growls would become but just seems gruff, like Tom G. Warrior used to do on early Celtic Frost albums. The tempo varies greatly as well, with the speed metal sections giving way to slower, heavier ones.

Open the Tombs and Impending Doom are a great way to kick this off, like an early Slayer crossed with Possessed and maybe some Destruction too. Shepherd of Evil slows things down for a powerful intro before the guitars speed off to try to outrun the drums, like Sodom did so often early on. The riffs are excellent but the pace is just as important. This is thrash to clean you out and reboot your system, the sort I like the most. Hurl yourself into the pit and come out a different person half an hour later.

I enjoyed Fatal Visions from the outset, my biggest problem being how long it isn't. 34 minutes isn't short enough to complain and, in fact, it's about right for the era it's conjuring up, but it didn't seem like it was done as the final notes of Through Relic Gates vanish into the ether and I certainly wasn't ready for it to end. It was Endtime Winds that really got me to stand up and pay attention though.

For much of its running time, it's another frantic sprint with the vocals as reminiscent of Cal from Discharge as anyone else, the band following suit to make this a metal sounding punk song. However, it starts off slow and heavy, with a fantastic riff that reminds of Toranaga. It's gone by the time things speed up a minute and a half in, returning for the ending, but it remains in the brain throughout and it wouldn't shock me if I wake up with it playing in my head for the next couple of weeks.

Nothing else here matches Endtime Winds, but the album thrashes on unabated with another four songs that continue with the mindset of the first couple. Everything here is strong stuff, but the second half of the album does blur together because there's nothing different enough to stand out the way that Endtime Winds or even Shepherd of Evil do until the intro to Through Relic Gates, which is another heavy and slow churn with a decent riff.

I do like variety, but consistency isn't a bad thing when it's to knock out an impactful song and then follow it with a string of others that do much of the same. The core of the band is the dual guitarists, Remi and Lasse Udjus, who sprint along as if they're auditioning for a Slayer tribute band with no material newer than Reign in Blood. Daniel Tveit's drums fit that too, right down to the drum intro to Towards the Unknown. Remi also handles vocals and he deepens the band's sound with hints at punk and death. The bass of Cato Bakke is prominent in the mix and again adds a hint towards death.

I like this a lot. It's not remotely original and it sticks stubbornly to a particular sound that it wants to emulate. However, Inculter do that rather well. That means that I have another prior album to catch up on, as this is the band's second, following Persisting Devolution, which was released back in 2015.

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