Tuesday 3 March 2020

Metalium - Tenebris (2020)

Country: Turkey
Style: Thrash Metal
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 27 Feb 2020
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I have no idea why the title track of this album is its intro, but it's the calm before the storm, a classy two minute orchestration. Then the band hit it and we're in for half an hour of thrash goodness from Turkey, courtesy of a band who go way back. They formed as far back as 1987, issued their first demo in 1989 and put out a couple of studio albums, apparently on cassette, in 1990 and 1995.

Then they split up, not getting back together for another decade and a half and not releasing any further product until now. The time between their last album, Suffer, and this one is a full quarter of a century. On the basis of this one, I'm happy that they're back, though I would like more information than I can currently find.

It looks like the main man is Mazhar Şiringöz, who has been the vocalist and one of two guitarists from the very beginning. He appears to be an important figure in Turkish metal, not just by leading Metalium but also by being one of the pioneering tape traders in the scene and running a record shop called Saadeth. This sold bootlegs because no western metal was available in Turkey at the time on a commercial basis.

Generally speaking, Metalium play mid-tempo thrash with faster sections when the need arises. The style feels more German than American, though that's in large part due to Şiringöz's vocals, which are delivered with a rough rasp a lot like Mille Petrozza's. I'm also hearing Destruction in the music behind him, though, and that's no bad thing. The instrumentation is clean and pure, the mix helping that a great deal. It doesn't take any effort to hear Yetkin Taşkın's bass, for example, and no one instrument, even the voice, is over-dominating.

While I prefer my thrash on the faster side and songs like Testimony of Doom emphatically refuse to speed up, I enjoyed this a lot. Metalium really have the dual guitar logic down pat, with one racing ahead at pace and the other turning out a neat embellishment over it. That works especially well on the faster sections of Critical Solstice but it's all over the album and so much chugging lends itself to that approach.

Technically, Metalium are really solid. The guitars chug well, speed up well and solo well, but they're ably supported by the drums of Ayhan Ergönül, the other long term member (he played on the band's 1995 album). He doesn't do a lot to draw specific attention to himself, but he's a precision machine and his fills and other enhancements beyond the beat are absolutely seamless. It wouldn't surprise me to find that Metalium rehearse more than most bands.

While I liked this throughout, my favourite song is easily 6th Day of Hell, which wraps up the album, and it's far from a new one. I believe this is a fresh recording of a song that appears all the way back on their 1989 demo. It's the fastest thing here, though it varies pace a lot. It's everything I loved about thrash back in the eighties. I have no idea why it didn't make it onto a studio album until now.

The best riffs, on the other hand, are on a new song, Fallen, the first half of which is destined to get pits moving, so Metalium aren't resting on their laurels here. That and Critical Solstice underline how much this band are as relevant now as they were back in the eighties when metal was underground in Turkey and people like Şiringöz were key players building that scene.

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