Thursday 11 January 2024

Technology of Death - Skutočný nepriateľ (2024)

Country: Slovakia
Style: Thrash Metal
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 11 Jan 2024
Sites: Bandcamp | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube

From something highly unexpected to something acutely familiar. I've never heard Technology of Death before, because this is their debut album, but I've heard this brand of thrash metal plenty of times. They hail from Slovakia, where they formed in 2019, and they don't do a lot that could be called original, but they do it very well indeed and it's one of the particular brands of metal that I can simply never have enough of: fast thrash with clean but rough vocals.

They start us out by giving us a false sense of security, because the intro, inevitably entitled Intro, is a minute of intricate acoustic guitar duet, and then the first track proper, Nenávisť, begins with the sort of repetitive chug that gives me sinking feelings. Clearly the guitarists here, Šuro and Andy, are highly capable, but I wondered about whether they'd speed up or keep this a chug fest. It's an entire minute before drummer Rasťo ups the pace and fortunately they mostly stay at the faster speed. When they slow down, it's more for reasons of dynamics than to try to make the pit churn.

The vocals come from bassist Tomáš, who probably thinks of himself as a bassist more than a lead vocalist, but he spits out lyrics in Slovak with admirable attitude and urgency. There's not a lot of polish on his voice but his rough rhythmic delivery works perfectly with this style of thrash, a fast but straightforward approach that's guaranteed to clean out your system, leaving you knackered but also rejuvenated. This often felt very German to me, with their ruthless efficiency and rough delivery, Kreator or Sodom generally speaking but with Destruction coming out too in the guitar solos. It doesn't shock to find out that the first track title, Nenávisť, translates to Hate.

I liked the first three tracks—Nenávisť, Koniec (The End) and T.O.D. (presumably just Technology of Death)—but Depresia felt like a step up with a gorgeous riff and a nice drop into a bass solo, with a just as nice shift back up into top gear again, and Sabbath Bloody Sabbath following it very well. That's not the cover that we expect it to be, by the way; it's an original song that merely adopts a thoroughly recognisable title for no apparent reason. These are the sort of blistering songs that make me wish I was three decades younger and more able to dive into the pit and lose myself for three and a half emphatic minutes.

Skutočný nepriateľ is strong too, firmly reminding that this isn't all rooted in Teutonic thrash. The vocals never sound like John Connolly, but the music behind them often reminded me of Nuclear Assault, that punky crossover edge on top of technical thrash. Of course, as I type that, this track shifted firmly into Iron Maiden territory, so it's probably fair to say that there's no obvious single influence here. And that's a good thing. This may sound familiar generally rather than conjuring up some sort of Slovakian spin on thrash metal, but it's still accomplished stuff that feels like it's effortless but still meaningful for the four musicians who founded the band and still comprise its line-up today.

So this sounds great to me. If you're a thrash fan generally, you're going to dig this. I like it here in a studio recording and Technology of Death sound precisely like the sort of band I want to stumble into a club and hear on stage. Trust me, I'm not going to be propping up the bar while they're on. I think the telling questions are going to come down to how much you value originality and how well it's all going to stick in the brain. I'm a big fan of originality and I'm not finding any here, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing because the musicianship is excellent and the effect is pristine. So, it falls to how memorable the songs are and that's not something I can answer yet. Ask me in a few days.

Whether they do or not, it wouldn't shock me to find myself coming back to this. It's fast, powerful and uncompromising. It's also highly consistent without the songs blurring into each other. This is the sort of thing I often throw on to cleanse my palate after an underwhelming release or if I need to reset after an unexpected gem. This is the sort of album that steals my focus away from what's stuck in my brain and also gifts me what energy I need to shift onto something else. I'll also run it by my son too, because this is the sort of thing he loves to listen to while he's walking home from work. I think he's going to dig this one too.

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