Impaled Nazarene // Road to the Octagon
Rating: 3.0/5.0 —Goatwill toward men and season’s beatings for all!
Label: Osmose Productions
Websites: campnazarene.com | myspace.com/impalednazarene
Release Dates: Out now worldwide!

Well, this album CLEARY isn’t in the spirit of the holidays!  Christmas-unfriendly band name aside, it’s apparently time for another goat worshipping blast-fest from these blasphemous and blackened Finns. The Impaled ones have created an odd, morphing catalogue over their long life and drifted from pure black metal into something way more like punk-infused black thrash. That continues here as it did on 2007’s Manifest but with more energy and urgency this time out. At a scant thirty three minutes in length, this barely qualifies for a full-length and it goes by mighty fast, but if savage black/punk metal warms the cockles of your heart this time of  year, then scream BAH HUMBUG and read on.

Road to the Octagon eschews the usual black metal aesthetics, so you can forget the traditional intro with two minutes of creepy wind effects or Dracula’s castle style keyboard noodling (in fact, there are no keyboards at all). Instead you get instantly assaulted by full speed black thrash inflicted in short sharp bursts. Most tracks are between two and three minutes and fly by in a rabid blur, leaving virtually no time to frown, scowl or pose menacingly in a wintry forest. Velocity is the watch word here and there’s very little change in tempo from track to track, just light-speed black thrash and the very effective rasps of Mika Luttinen (only album closer “Rhetoric Infernal” slows the pace down). Some tracks even veer close to Germanic thrash and “Corpses” in particular reminds me of old Sodom and also stands out as the best track of the thirteen. While the super short songs guarantee none overstay their welcome,  several times it felt like the songs ended prematurely (“Tentacles of the Octagon” and “Reflect on This”) but I guess it’s always better to leave them wanting more. All the speed however does cause the songs to blur together and leaves Road to the Octagon feeling a little monotonous as it blasts along.  On a positive note, although I didn’t have a lyric sheet to aid me, it seems the two words thrown around most were “Satan” and “fuck” and that’s what metal is all about folks (especially during the holidays). Also, lest fans start to worry, there is the obligatory goat themed song, this time it’s “Cult of the Goat.”

The gold star here has to go to drummer Repe Misanthrope (really?) for sounding like he has four arms and endless cardio. I would hate to be this guy come touring time. Second place goes to Mika for the mammoth throat abuse he must have endured recording his vocals (now go see a physician). Another positive is the production by Mika and crew which is one of the best Impaled Nazarene ever had and far from low-fi. In fact, it’s very clear and crisp and allows everything to be heard despite the insanely fast pace.

You simply can’t ask for more ferocity and aggression and Road to the Octagon is essentially an aural panic attack. That said, this isn’t their best work and falls victim to the “too much of the same thing” syndrome. Only a few tracks manage to rise above the swirling nuclear madness to demand special attention from the listener. However, this still gets a decent score because of that very same swirling nuclear madness. Sometimes that’s exactly what one needs to hear and well, here it is.  Happy Anger by the Manger Day and remember to kiss a goat.

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