Friday 18 March 2022

Chemicide - Common Sense (2022)

Country: Costa Rica
Style: Thrash Metal
Rating: 8/10
Release Date: 15 Mar 2022
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Here's a thrash album with a vicious edge indeed, courtesy of Chemicide who have been perfecting their craft in San José, Costa Rica for a decade and a half, beginning out as Conquerer in 2006 and changing name to Chemicide in 2008. This is their fourth album, a year late for their schedule thus far of one every odd year, and it's a real peach. It's fast thrash, barrelling along at a strong rate of knots, with fantastic chugging and excellent solos. The vocals are reliable, even if nothing new and it's notable how the production makes them fight for attention, because the instruments are high in the mix. And that guitar sound!

Chemicide are a quartet with two guitarists, Sebastián and Frankie, though I don't know which one handles the lead or whether they swap lead duties. Frankie also splits the vocal duties with bassist Palo and, again, I don't know who sings lead or whether they swap. Both the vocals and guitars are highly consistent though, with nothing ever seeming patchwork. In fact, they have to be one of the tightest guitar pairings I've heard and both guitarists play like their lives depend on it.

Self-Destruct is a fantastic opener that gets down to business immediately, highlighting with real emphasis how Chemicide are not one of those thrash bands content to chug along at mid-pace and maybe even slower than that. They blister out of the gate and, while they do chug magnificently, it is never for an entire song. They sprint for a while, occasionally shift down a gear midway through a song for a mosh part and then ramp up back up to sprint again. This works really well, especially on the notably patient section late in Strike as One, which is otherwise as frantic as this album has to offer. The song does try to get away from the band, but they manage to keep it in check.

Lunar Entity is the first obvious highlight for me, with Common Sense following right on its heels as the second, especially spending its first minute and a half as an instrumental. There's a third as well, even with only eight tracks on offer, and that's False Democracy, kicking off the second side. Nothing else lets the album down though and I happily spent a whole Saturday morning becoming seriously energised listening to this album over and over again.

It's a very strong album from the good old fashioned "nothing like a good thrash to clean you out" standpoint, in the vicious early Exodus style but maybe a little more polished with its 21st century production values. My only complaint there isn't really a complaint, because there are a couple of points, like when Strike as One and Disposable kick into gear, where the production seems to have lost the battle, the songs sounding like there's a distant explosion behind them, but it may just be for effect, because otherwise it's solid as a rock, with the bass admirable clear throughout.

What elevates it above other very strong thrash albums are the way that Chemicide know exactly how to start and stop songs. I wasn't sold on the ending to Self-Destruct and Lunar Eternity fades out, but there are a whole lot of really good endings here, where a song reaches a natural end to stop on a dime. At the other end of songs, there are no long intros here, unless we count the long instrumental section on the title track, which I wouldn't, but the songs delineate themselves with individual openings. The most notable is the guitar tone as Color Blind begins, but it's clear that a live set wouldn't surprise the audience at any point. Chemicide would only need to play a couple of bars and the die hard audience would know exactly what song is starting.

The best thrash albums I've heard lately have been from established North American bands, something I have to admit to being surprised by. Last year's releases from Flotsam and Jetsam and Exodus are absolute killers, for instance. South America, especially Brazil, has been a hotbed for good thrash though and I'm really happy to see that quality moving up to Central America. I wonder what sort of scene is going on in Costa Rica but I'd love to hear more.

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