I originally wrote a bit about how thrash already has monster output, despite it being so early in the year. Then someone stole my thunder. [Ooopsies! – Dr. A.N. Grier]. Despite the ensuing scalpel duel, I do concur with my fellow doctor. From Kreator to Sepultura and every re-thrash act in between, this year intends to chase 2016 down and crush its skull, Whiplash-style. Now the thawing Canadian tundra has to spit out Infernäl Mäjesty to bloody this party up. Exiting hibernation after over a decade, the old farts celebrate the big 3-0 with the fiery malice of No God.
“Enter the World of the Undead” christens the album with an unqualified success. Jackhammer beats and scalding vocals accompany riffs blackened in both tone and drive, tumbling from one passage to the next with only an occasional fill or bassline as mortar. Sporting shades of Deströyer 666 and Hobbs’ Angel of Death, the hellacious atmosphere never relents. Even when throttling down to a groove-backed solo, enduring rolls of bass pedal ensure the music cannot truly be called “slow.” “In God You Trust” opens moments away from a classic Schuldiner riff but pulls back to the prior track’s missing midtempo. Dual-wielding ferocity and hooks familiar to any Deströyer 666 fan, “In God You Trust” and follow-up “Signs of Evil” emulate the Australians’ ability to structure tracks rather simply while remaining vibrant and fresh. Chris Bailey injects a smoky malcontent into enunciated echoes that ply catchiness and savagery in equal measure. His cutthroat cadence on “No God” sets alight a track that alone might have seen Infernäl Mäjesty’s chorus-heavy formula wear thin.
In walking the same general path from track to track, No God runs the risk of invoking the biggest no-no of all AMG tropes: shit gets “samey.”1 Infernäl Mäjesty do indeed hammer the same nail over and over again, though not to the point of cracking the board. Individuality is sacrificed in the name of overall theming. While that sound often sparkles, the difficulty remains when attempting to highlight peaks. No God is marked by its consistent bustle, but that eliminates genre-bending change-ups or foot-stomping “Hounds at Ya Back”-esque anthems. In the moment, the album rarely fails to entertain but lacks development on subsequent listens. Listen No. 1 is roughly the same as listen No. 10. Run times, as seems to be par for the genre now (thanks, Metallica), live in territory beyond five minutes. This results in a mixed bag, with material both succeeding and burning out as the clock strikes 5. “Systematical Extermination” and “Extinction Level Event” highlight long-track chops, but closing “Another Day in Hell” with nearly three minutes of tepid soloing and half-assed builds does nothing for me.
While the temptation to ride off into a jet-black midnight like Hobbs’ Angel of Death’s recent release is ever-present, the Canadians remain true to their thrash roots. No God litters the stage with callbacks to Razor, Slayer, and Morbid Saint. The grammar Nazi in me grumbles in muted protest whenever “Systematical Extermination” flashes across my Now Playing bar, but I cannot deny its quality when deviating from standard genre operating procedure. “Kingdom of Heaven” sees the rumbling undercurrent of Daniel Nargang’s bass occupy the same space as Tormentor’s drum work for Desaster. Content to delight for only a moment, it keeps things fresh and spices up the blackened affair. Steve Terror and Kenny Hallman’s riffs do the bulk of the heavy lifting, and masterfully fuse beef thrash and scalding black metal takes. The production tends to accentuate the former. Though lacking the electricity of D666 or Hobbs’, it has taken a clear step forward in the last decade. The skins in particular excise their racketty qualities from One Who Points to Death, allowing drummer Kiel Wilson to bash the front of your skull in with a ball-peen hammer whenever he pleases.
When all’s said and done, Infernäl Mäjesty have carved a niche into an already crowded field. It may not surpass recent releases by the likes of D666 and Desaster, but No God brings an underground legend out of the wilderness and into the modern spotlight. If the band can finally maintain their positive momentum, it’s not hard to imagine a climb up the blackened thrash mountain. Fortunately, No God is an excellent base camp from which to embark.