Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Fabulous Desaster – Hang ‘em High

Hang ‘em High” is the first record for German thrash metal band Fabulous Desaster. Taking obvious influence from Exodus, this is one band that definitely worships old-school thrash. This means that the music is a little bit predictable, but the end result is an exciting, inspired record. The most obvious Exodus influence comes from the band’s vocalist, who has one of the more animated thrash metal voices of recent years. Much like Zetro, he relies on an aggressive snarl that occasionally goes into more extreme territory.

The more subtle nod to Exodus’ music is that fact that nearly every second of “Hang ‘em High” sounds like the band is about to jump out of their skin. This album is beyond energetic, and consistently maintains a furious pace. Fabulous Desaster rarely slows down, making this a fairly quick 40-minute listen (especially since the band’s singer is constantly spitting out lyrics). Though I want to criticize the band for having a slightly weak guitar tone with not enough low-end, it fits their spastic sound. Solos are plentiful all throughout the album, and range from being semi-coherent to getting much wilder. “Thrash Bang Wallop” and "Customized" even have room for a bass solo. 

Like many modern thrash bands, Fabulous Desaster’s weakness is that their music tends to blend together. It isn’t a lack of variety that hurts, but simply that more memorable songwriting is needed. However, the band’s overall sound is distinctive enough to make them more than just another thrash band in the crowd. Few of their peers have as much enthusiasm, and an even smaller number have a vocalist who is anywhere near as unique as Fabulous Desaster’s singer. The band ticks all of the other boxes needed for enjoyable modern thrash: tight musicianship, good production (though “Hang ‘em High” isn’t quite as processed or perfect as a lot of other releases), plenty of gang vocals, and an endless supply of riffs. Some might be quick to write them off as another Exoclone, and they are undoubtedly very similar, but Fabulous Desaster’s music is already most suited to those who just can’t get enough thrash metal!

Be sure to check out and like Fabulous Desaster on Facebook!

"Death Is Loud"
"R.I.P. (Rest in POWER)"
"Thrash Metal Symphony"

Final Rating
3.8/5 or 76%. 

Written by Scott

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Ascalon – Reflections

2016 might be starting to wind down, but there is no shortage of awesome releases still to come this year. One such example is the upcoming debut EP from Ascalon, entitled “Reflections”. The cover art might lean in more of a power metal direction, but this is simply classic heavy metal. With their roots in the UK, it is no surprise that Ascalon has a sound with tons of Judas Priest and Iron Maiden influence. Their rocking music leans more towards the former, but there are plenty of Maiden-esque harmonies scattered throughout this release as well. The band pushes the dueling guitars to their limit on the title track, which opens with some of the most daring and exciting guitar parts on the record. This stomping track will do more than simply get your head banging, as it shows an inspired sound that few modern bands have.

From an execution standpoint, “Reflections” gets everything right. The production is excellent, with crunchy guitars that sound great whether they're unleashing riffs or melodies. The vocals might be a bit far back in the mix at times, but Ascalon really is a band where the guitar playing shines the most. Their singer has a slightly limited range compared to vocalists like Rob Halford or Bruce Dickinson, but he fits the music well. He is primarily successful because of the effort he puts into his performance (there are a couple of particularly great screams on this EP), which is true of the band as a whole. “Reflections” is consistently energetic, and even if it does occasionally slow down in a song, the band never sounds bored. “Red Leather” is an interesting example where the verses move at high speeds, yet the chorus slows down for a more simplistic approach. The result is a track that is extremely memorable.

The best song, however, is “The Enforcer”. Not unlike the title track, it opens with a wandering lead guitar piece (also similar to the interlude that precedes “The Enforcer”). It doesn’t take long for the track to explode into yet another rocking tune, filled with quality riffs. The theme on this EP is pretty consistent, but at just 35 minutes, there isn’t much time for “Reflections” to get repetitive. The final 3 tracks on this release come from a demo the band put out in 2013, but you’d never know, as they fit in line perfectly with the rest of the record (both in sound and production quality). 

Though “Reflections” likely won’t be seen as a genre-defining record in 20 years, it will be one of those classic gems that serious collectors need. There is more than enough interesting songwriting and exemplary riffing to make this a worthwhile release. Ascalon has a lot of potential, and it is likely that their best is yet to come, but until then, pop in “Reflections” and enjoy!

Be sure to check out and like Ascalon on Facebook!

"The Enforcer"

Final Rating
4.1/5 or 82%. 

Written by Scott