Two things come to mind when I see the word “eruption.” One is filthy and the other is raunchy. The former isn’t for virgin eyes and the latter? Van Halen. Guess which one the Slovenian outfit Eruption fits in. Neither. Sorry pervs and, well… pervs. Instead, Eruption fit under a third, yet unlisted category: thrash metal. Yep, I said “Slovenian” and “thrash” in the same sentence. That combination alone should pique some interest for these worshipers of the old and true. When they emerged in 2009 with debut album, Lifeless Paradise, they were hellbent on rekindling the early years of the Bay Area thrash scene (particularly Metallica and Testament). The lyrics, the riffs, the voice—it’s all there. From there, the band expanded its repertoire to include influences like Artillery and Forbidden. Traveling through 2009’s Lifeless Paradise to 2012’s Tenses Collide, the biggest changes come in the form of the vocals and production. The songwriting, however, still remains—kicking your ass from the caged-off bar to the pit. So, what does 2017’s Cloaks of Oblivion have in store for us? Well…
More ass kicking. On the surface, Cloaks of Oblivion is a sleek continuation of Tenses Collide. But, right away, it has two things going for it that its predecessor didn’t: a better title and better artwork. If you know the band, you’ll be pleased to know the new record is right on par with Tenses. It’s nonstop thrash, delivered with high energy and executed with painstaking precision. Everything from its vice-tight guitar picking to sharp drum work. And, as is the case with all their releases, the bass guitar has just as much a presence as the vocals. Vocals that rise and fall to the music, capturing the heavy riffs with phlegm-flinging yells and rising with the chords to glass-shattering levels. If you’re a thrasher, Eruption might just be for you.
The short instrumental opener, “Pharos,” gets things a-movin’ much in the same way as the opening moments of Forbidden‘s Twisted into Form. Clean guitars build up the tension before it finally snaps in “Sanity Ascend.” While the riffs rip and the drums thunder along, it’s the vocals that standout the most. And by “standout,” I mean they are much better than the debut and even a step above the performances on Tenses. Klemen Kalin uses everything from Forbidden-meets-Metal Church cleans to rough-edged jabs that could punch a nail through concrete. The latter supports a midsection riff with Kalin cleans and his gang-shouting backup squad. It’s a highlight of the album and something I look forward to with each listen.
Other crushing moments come in the form of “Drones,” “Reborn into Demise,” and “Seven Archons.” “Drones” is a nonstop pit-romper set to “bone crusher,” while the latter two lean on their hooks and builds. “Reborn into Demise” is a superb track that mixes crushing blows and mind-boggling soloing with vocals that range from Iron Fire to Metal Church. “Seven Archons,” on the other hand, makes itself memorable with not only riffs but with the best chorus on the record. It may be a simple track built around repetition, but it’s effective as fuck.
But, it’s repetition that destroys the album’s epic, “The Prophet.” Clocking in at over seven minutes, the closer is a concept track that doesn’t seem concerned with going anywhere. In the end, it’s one of those frustrating songs that you have to push through for countless minutes before arriving at its best riffs. The closing minute is worth the wait, but it’s a long one. Though the opening moments of the title track remind me of its predecessor, it too suffers from repetition problems. But “The Yearning” succeeds solely on its wild fucking behavior. Hell, the introduction and chorus are about as close as it gets to Burnt Offerings-era Iced Earth. The air is brooding and sinister and the riffs are the thrashiest of Iced Earth‘s arsenal. Not to mention the layered choruses and doomy vocals in the back-half are bizarre when compared to the rest of the album. But, it works and it’s cool.
In general, this is a tasty dish of classic thrash that resists the urge to put all its eggs into the “Big Four” basket. It has character, clever songwriting and impressive guitar/bass/drum work (especially in numbers like “Cloaks of Oblivion”). It’s tight, a touch restrained, but fun as hell.