Thrash has deflowered many a metal virgin over the years, myself included. As such, regardless of the modern state of the thrash metal scene, it’s easy to fall back into cozy nostalgia, despite my belief that the majority of thrash bands are caught in a perpetual loop of attempting to rehash the genre’s past glories and ’80s heyday rather than forging their own path of destruction. 2016 proved a big year for the old dogs to bang out solid albums, however, in reality it was defined by thrashers willing to push boundaries or at the very least inject some fresh blood into tried and true formulas. Vektor’s much lauded thrashterpiece Terminal Redux rightfully dominated conversations and playlists, but beyond that obvious modern masterwork, Xoth’s thrashy gumbo of engaging and playful extremity, Ripper’s raw, Sepultura-inspired thrashing fury and Euphoria’s underrated space age barnstormer Operation: Genesis all punched above their weight and modest profiles. Already 2017 has thrown us back into the prominent rethrash movement, with big guns Havok, Warbringer and Power Trip all ripping out solidly fun retro workouts. Now we have another candidate ready to throw their High Tops into the retro worship ring, courtesy of time-warping Dutch thrashers Distillator and their sophomore album, Summoning the Malicious.

Pulling strands from the much pillaged Bay Area thrash scene of the ’80s, spiked with whiffs of old school Slayer and Destruction, Distillator go about their business with minimum fuss and plenty of throwback thrash attitude and tightly executed chops. Fleet fingered riffing, speedy rhythms, standardized thrash vocals and theatrical, balls-in-vice inflections lay down a solid template of what Distillator are all about on opening rager “Blinded by Chauvinism,” a feisty but ultimately repetitive thrasher with a semi-decent solo. Throughout the album Distillator teeter on the cusp of writing some strong thrash tunes but struggle to climb out of the middle tier of the over-populated rethrash scene. Even by thrash standards there isn’t a hell of a lot of dynamic variety, particularly in regards to the riffing, structural patterns and tempo, while the high pitched shrieks are a tad overused and come across as a little gimmicky. Nevertheless, Summoning the Malicious has its moments and there’s nothing here that’s outright bad, nor is their much to inspire or deeply engage, despite some interesting Middle-Eastern influences and old school charm.

Highlighted by its breakneck speed, impressive guitar-bass interplay and effective Middle-Eastern flavored melodies, the title track is a catchy stand out, while other worthy cuts include the suitably ripping and aggressive “Mechanized Existence,” and sprightly gallop and tasty bass licks of “Algorithmic Citizenship.” Sadly, these stronger efforts are bookended by bland and largely forgettable tunes like “Enter the Void” and “Stature of Liberty.” Overall, Distillator is a tight and energetic unit and the quality musicianship and retro dedication is impressive. But simply, beyond a few solid songs, the occasional inspired riff and slashing solo, the album doesn’t keep a steady enough grip to sustain interest or inspire revisits. Sound-wise, the guitar tone has a sharp, classic feel, the drums hammer away adequately, but the impressive bass could stand to be more punchy. The main issue with the production comes down to the crushed mastering job, which strips away any sort of decent sonic depth, ramming ear fatiguing loudness into your ear drums. The loudness factor is definitely an element that differentiates the production from the classic recordings of the ’80s, before the Loudness War took hold.

Distillator tick all the retro thrash boxes and certainly manage to nail the aesthetics in cultivating an authentic throwback sound. However, replicating the past is just one key component to rethrash success. Quality songwriting that demands repeat listens rather than inspiring listeners to scramble for the genre classics is a tough task and Distllator can’t pull it off well enough to inspire a hearty recommendation. For some, a feisty attack of nostalgia may be all that’s required to get the full engagement out of a rethrash band. Myself, I demand more bang for my thrash buck and Distillator aren’t quite up to scratch when there are stronger retro thrash options and timeless genre classics to draw upon.


Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 4 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Empire Records
Websites: facebook.com/DISTILLATORNL | distillator.bandcamp.com
Releases Worldwide: May 1st, 2017

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  • Paul VH

    Riff…..verse…..riff……verse…..shout the title while the music stops…..solo…..riff…..rinse and repeat.
    Plus does one guy do all the album art for all the trash bands these days??
    Good review btw

    • Ta2dlam

      I have thought that exact thing. I know it’ll be thrash before I know anything else simply by the cover and the logo although the same can be said about several genres, I suppose. Black, Grindcore, TechDeath, Deathcore, RetroDoom, etc.

      • Paul VH

        Good point….I can’t think of many album covers that were misleading as to the genre within……that’d be a good post though!

        • lennymccall

          Would be funny to see a black metal band use an Ed Repka style cover. All silly and shit and then bam! Super depressive black grimness.

          And yes nearly all thrash bands utilize either Repka, Andrei Bouzikov, or someone aping them.

    • Caleb

      Trash or Thrash?

      • Paul VH

        To my ears it’s “meh”.
        Not that thrash is the most innovative subgenre , but a little effort (cough….Vektor ) goes a long way.

      • Paul VH

        Ahhh….yes….auto correct. …thanks

  • rumour_control

    “…throw their High Tops into the retro worship ring…” — Perfect.

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    This retro-thrash sounds like… retro thrash! This reminds me a lot of Evil Invaders!

    • Jason

      Yep. Definitely in the vocals.

  • Aesir

    What exactly are they distilling?

    • Speed.

      • Aesir

        Ahhh…I’d rather they do the hard water in my house.

  • savafreak

    That was harsh, the embedded video was fun and cohesive, what else a thrasher would want from a band! And I doubt that a band who makes such a ferocious track would make an average boring album. Besides you seemed conflicted in your review, you praised its strengths more than you criticized its flaws, and at the end you gave it 2.0 !
    Your own words ” Highlighted by its breakneck speed, impressive guitar-bass interplay and effective Middle-Eastern flavored melodies, the title track is a catchy stand out, while other worthy cuts include the suitably ripping and aggressive “Mechanized Existence,” and sprightly gallop and tasty bass licks of “Algorithmic Citizenship.” Overall, Distillator is a tight and energetic unit and the quality musicianship and retro dedication is impressive. Sound-wise, the guitar tone has a sharp, classic feel, the drums hammer away adequately, but the impressive bass could stand to be more punchy.”

    • Luke_22

      I did praise the embedded title track which is probably the strongest song on the album, however, the bulk of the songs don’t reach this standard or bring anything particularly fresh or inspiring to the rethrash game. Each their own, I’m sure plenty of thrashers will dig this, but as I thought I explained clearly the songwriting can’t maintain a very high standard. And while the individual tones are okay, the production is way too smashed. If you really like what you heard,definitely check it out. You might find more to like than I did.

  • Ivan E. Rection

    On tour now with Evaporator, Humidifier, and Partial Homogenizer.

  • Matthew Christensen

    That embedded track does nothing for me. I’m a Gama Bomb man myself.

  • Mark Z

    Glad to see Euphoria get a mention, Operation:Genesis is an absolutely amazing album.

    • Luke_22

      Yeah caught it late, but had I got onto it earlier probably would have cracked my top 10 from last year.

    • Distillators previous album did not quite impress me, and judging from the review, this one won’t do much for me either. At least Distillator aren’t alone at that: most new thrash albums I listened to recently are fun enough for the first two-three songs, and then quickly become repetitive and boring.

      So I’ll skip this one in favour of Euphoria. Glad that name got dropped here, I didn’t hear about them before.

  • Thatguy

    Just got around to this.

    Not good at all – that riff – just sounds off. 1.5

  • Bas

    Better than their previous album. So in that respect not disappointing, but better than expected. However, despite the improvement (actually only in two tracks) it is still too familiar and boring… your final paragraph summarizes it neatly.
    I have to check out Xoth and Euphoria, thanks for the tips !

  • Iain Gleasure

    I didn’t enjoy Killswitch Engage doing this last night and I don’t like this now. It’s a pass for me.

  • Norfair Legend

    I don’t know, this ticks all the fun boxes for me. Not sure what kind of numerical score I’d give it but it would be higher and I’ll surely be giving it a listen. Enjoyed their last album and this seems to be more.

    Great review though, many good points you brought up.

  • ExitDose

    Thanks for turning me onto Xoth. That album sounds like it will be joining Terminal Redux and Embracing Oblivion among my favorites of the new wave.