Fatal Embrace // Empires of Inhumanity
Rating: 3.0/5.0 – Thrash like its still 1985
Label: Metal Blade
Websites: fatal-embrace.net | myspace.com/fatalembracemetalberlin
Release Dates: EU: 04.06.2010 | US: 06.08.2010

Trends often start off with a good idea or at least a respectable inspiration. However, through imitation and copying, that original idea becomes a trend and the trend gets boring, overdone and ultimately becomes a joke. The retro 80’s power metal trend is in full bloom and many would say the 80’s retro thrash movement has been overdone for years already. As someone who grew up in the 80’s metal era, I may possess more tolerance for this whole “retro” thing since it does this old heart good to hear a quality metal album that truly captures the sound, energy and spirit of a time long gone. Therefore, my review of The Empires of Inhumanity, the new release by German thrashers Fatal Embrace will be more charitable than what it would have received from other angry metal guys. In all fairness, these Teutonic shredders have been around since 1993 so they could rightfully be considered part of the original thrash movement rather than a retro band. Either way though, over four albums Fatal Embrace have demonstrated an unwavering dedication to the 80’s thrash style of Slayer and Sodom while foregoing all modern styles and current trends completely.

Picking up right where 2006’s Dark Pounding Steel left off, The Empires of Inhumanity delivers fast, pummeling, old school thrash that often sounds more than a little like Slayer in their prime mixed with the rougher edge of vintage Sodom and even Blessed Death. Guitarists Moloch and Spezi churn out some fierce and effective riffs from track to track, many reminding of Reign in Blood through Season in the Abyss.  The Slayer influence is so prevalent at times that lead track “Wake the Dead” could have been on Season in the Abyss and fit in almost perfectly. Continuing with the Slayer theme, vocalist Dirk Heiland manages to channel the rough delivery of Tom Angelripper at times, but can also mimic the screams of Tom Arya almost perfectly (check out his scream at 2:58 on “Wake the Dead” for proof). His vocal work is the highlight of most of the tracks here.

Fatal Embrace manage to churns out ten respectable and effective examples of vintage 80’s thrash with everything you might want from that sound. If this album came out anytime from  1985 through 1991, it would have made a lot of top ten lists for the year. With that said, the truth is there isn’t much here original or new in any way. Worth noting however, is an excellently done cover of the Iron Maiden classic “Killers.” Fatal Embrace puts their (semi-unique) spin on it and the result is a lot of fun to hear.

It can be tough to write a review for a band so entirely built around other bands’ sounds.  Beyond pinpointing the bands they borrow from, what else is there to say? For sheer nostalgia’s sake and for being so well done, The Empires of Inhumanity gets a decent rating and I enjoy listening to it. However, the overt Slayer/Sodom worship comes close at times to rendering these guys no more than a tribute band. If you loved the thrash sound of the mid 80’s, you should check this out for sure, it’s cool and fun and you know exactly what you are getting. All modernists and retro trend haters, stay the hell away.

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