How can you not love an album by a band called Alphakill? It alludes to killing… and it delivers. If you are jonesin’ for some good old-school ‘bonecrusher’ thrash, this magnum debut fits that bill so nicely.
“Madness has begun…” Alphakill, a ravenous pack of wolves from the true northland ‘Winnipeg’, bring us the culmination of their efforts as a band. Their aim, in 2010 when they formed, was specifically to let loose this fabulous disasterpiece on us. As the tale of terror goes, Justin Stear, Derrick Kroll, and Jon Warren met in some seedy basement and jam spot to write, and later record, these tracks as Unmitigated Disaster.
Produced by Jon Warren and mastered by none other then Andy LaRocque (King Diamond), the band have invested in high-tier musicianship, two years’ worth of excellent songwriting, and most importantly, an ‘alpha’ kick-ass attitude. Drawing from Baloff-era Exodus, The New Order-era Testament, Arise-era Sepultura, with a dash of Kill ‘Em All Hammett, yet a 2012-crisp production, the tracks on this album beg the question: why aren’t these guys on a major label? It’s a pleasure to be able to listen to well-crafted and well-honed music of any genre, and this album is no exception.
As promised in their bio, this album is relentless and unapologetic: “This is metal the way it was meant to be: Heavy, fast, loud, aggressive, and fury-inducing. No ballads, no weakness.” Intelligible lyrics with a socially-conscious or political bent, clear singing – and the guy can sing (not just scream), coupled with fantastic percussion, and a dual guitar line to pillage villages for – it’s a whopper. Vocal-wise, the band doesn’t slack. Stear has that confrontational Hetfield sneer nailed. Songs seem to have been designed from the ground up to give a wide berth to show some of the firepower within the fold. Tempos are for the most part in line with speed and very fast thrash metal. A rock-solid rhythm guitar churns away while some blazing fast lead sears our ears. You hear deadly riff after riff, face-melting solo after solo, with ‘no repeats’. Fortunately, Mr. Insane Soloist sits well in the mix, with a top-notch band to rein him in. These guys have got some chops, and they aren’t afraid to let their talents shine. It seems like the band had a million ideas, and put every one of them on this album: talk about going for broke! There might be 3 million notes here – they sure didn’t leave any out.
There’s a lot of everything ‘ear candy’ on this album, so here are “just a few” highlights:
“Thrash Eternal”, a highly aggressive, riffy opener, gives thanks to Testament lyrically with the nod “Into The Pit”.
“Corrupted Masses” is a good showcase of vocals: it’s refreshing to hear a guy in a thrash band not abusing his voice.
“Unmitigated Disaster”, the title track, has a ‘death march’ intro and beginning, one of the only spots on the album to sport melody.
“Threat From Within”: Holy trem picking Batman… and then we get the Warrel Dane/King Diamond falsetto scream of death.
“Rebellion” highlights the band’s skill as purveyors of choppy, classic speed metal. “Out from the clutches of tyranny… take freedom back!” One of the clearest, punchiest, and best-phrased choruses.
“Becoming The Alpha” is a metaphorical ode to the band and their fanbase. They’ve managed to work in a nod to Exodus with perfect “Fabulous Disaster” phrasing of some lyrics.
“The Age Of The Debt Slaves” is another thrashtastic riff factory. Some falsetto (think Warrel Dane or King Diamond) high vocals are used as an accent.
“Skullcrushery” is the closing tune, and it’s no less rabid then the opener, or anything in between. We’re treated to ‘pinch harmonics of death’, and a few thousand more notes… “Time to die…”
Criticism: With crushing guitar molestation like this, they need a monster bassist to back them… the mix has some depth, but the bass might be a bit too deep. It seems a bit buried. There IS a bass guitar (and he does have ‘chops’!) – listen for it 2/3 the way through “Thrash Eternal”, “Unmitigated Disaster”, or the beginning of “Rebellion” – it’s just… buried. Not nearly as badly as say …And Justice For All, not even close. This release could be improved slightly with the added punch only the bass, written as it’s own part and not ‘a glorified octave pedal to the guitar’, can bring to the fold. It’s not a tinny high-pitchy album – don’t get me wrong, it’s plenty ballsy – but it would absolutely give a band like (modern) Exodus a run for their money if it had more bottom end.
With a crisp sound and a clean production, an even (upset and angry) mood, and absolutely crushing tunes throughout, this intense album delivers the goods. Are the screamers, swearers, and “Cookie Monsters” wearing thin on you? Sub-par musicianship using a ‘wall of gain’ driving you batty? Then give your ears a refreshing break with this blazing fireball. If you’re after good, solid, fast thrash metal with a hefty dose of shred guitar lead and a competent lead vocalist belting out socially-aware themes, look no further. If you like your metal raging and chock full o’ nuts, Alphakill’s Unmitigated Disaster is a guaranteed ass-kicker from a heck of a tight pack.
Let Me Die
Threat From Within
Becoming The Alpha
The Age Of The Debt Slaves
Justin Stear (guitar, vocals)
Jon Warren (guitar, backing vocals)
Jesse Skoleski (bass guitar – studio); Jon Anderson (bass guitar, backing vocals – current)
Derrick Kroll (drums)