Friday, 27 March 2020

3000AD - The Void (2020)



Country: New Zealand
Style: Thrash Metal
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 27 Mar 2020
Sites: Bandcamp | Facebook | Instagram | Metal Archives | Official Website | YouTube

With a population of only 5 million, New Zealand punches above its weight on a lot of fronts, but I see fewer Kiwi metal bands than I might expect, both in quantity and importance. The most notable outfit I can name may be Shihad and the most fun lately has been Alien Weaponry. Perhaps not coincidentally, both of those bands play (or least used to play) thrash metal and so do this band, 3000AD, who hail from Christchurch though their Bandcamp page suggests that they may be based in Berlin nowadays.

Interestingly, they call what they do progressive thrash, and I won't argue with that too much because there are certainly prog elements here, but they also play close to the looser punk side of thrash. They're a power trio, for a start, with drummer Hellmore Bones singing lead and the other two members singing plenty of backup. If the backing features prog stylings, the vocals are all crossover attitude.

One aspect that both the instrumentation and the vocals share is the way in which they interact as a matter of course. Just check out the intro to Who's Watching?, which we would usually expect to be a solo guitar but here is a duet between Sam Pryor's guitar and Scott Austin's bass. The reason that the band sound like they have more than three members is because that bass has a surprisingly high tone so that we often mistake it for a second guitar.

They have a clean sound that ought to fit pretty well when they perform with other German thrash bands. It's those punky vocals, which are as reminiscent of, say, the first Suicidal Tendencies album as someone like Kreator, and a futuristic lyrical bent that sets them aside. And the world's doing its best to catch up with them, as if the band were really 2020AD not 3000AD.

For instance, a song like Cells, which I presume was not written last month, seems eerily contemporary, set as it is against the wildly unlikely theme of a global pandemic. "Those walls have become a tomb, enclose around you like a concrete womb" sounds like it was written in response to social isolation. Its "microscopic annihilation" comes from "germs bred for war" so I hope we don't discover next week that COVID-19 was a CIA weapons test. It's not like the US hasn't done secret medical experiments in foreign countries before. Hey, Guatemala!

I wonder what else the prophets in 3000AD have in store for us. Well, hey, I see environmental disaster, internet addictions, the surveillance state, the world catching fire... all eerily topical. Only Journeys really sounds like a future state, involving interstellar travel as we attempt to locate a new planet to terraform. Maybe Elon Musk is already working on that.

I liked this but not as much as I thought I would. Even at its fastest, it's slower than I tend to like my thrash and it spends a lot of time mid-pace. I would see 3000AD as the sort of band who come on a few bands into a festival and energise the crowd. They're tighter and more sophisticated than the warm up bands but they're not iconic enough yet to be the names at the top of the bill. Then again, this is their debut. I like the riffs, the sound and even the punky vocals. I'd like to see where they go from here.

It's worth mentioning that the album wraps with Born Under a Black Sun, so that's what we have in our heads as we leave The Void. Along with Journeys, it's the joint longest song on the album and it's the only instrumental. It easily counts as the most consistent prog thrash across the eight tracks and it's delightful. I like the punky vocals but I love 3000AD all the more when the musicians concentrate on their instruments.

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