Everyone pictures themselves as the protagonist. Ask one hundred people what they’d do in a zombie apocalypse and they’ll all give you the same answer: survive. And yet, someone has to be that guy who gets mauled right near the beginning of the outbreak, or who foolishly stands near a window and is promptly eaten alive by the horde, squirming helplessly for their last miserable minutes. Nobody thinks they’re cannon fodder; that is something proven and earned by an individual. Paroxysm of Hatred, the sophomore release from Greece’s Rapture, have proven themselves to be just that.
The music on Paroxysm of Hatred is, to be fair, quite appealing in the loosest sense. Rapture plays death-thrash with heavy nods to old Slayer and Death’s Spiritual Healing in particular. The requisite bits of Massacra and Morbid Saint are there – how can we ever escape them? – but the order of the day is aping Slayer and Death. As a fan of both, as most metalheads are, this is a good combination; already, Rapture has won my attention as a fan of the old school. That attention is, for better or worse, weighted with expectation and anticipation; this is one reason why records from beloved genres oftentimes score lower than many think they ought to.
Records like Paroxysm of Hatred produce a strange reaction in the listener. They tap into a lineage of indisputable greatness and produce results resembling that on the surface, but not in essence or quality. Rapture produce, in this sense, musical sophistry; it’s plausible as quality death-thrash at first blush, but suffers under closer examination. The “mosh part” of “Thriving on Atrocity” is good when you’re just nodding along, but with slightly more scrutiny we hear warmed-up Exodus leftovers with aimless Slayer flourishes more derivative of Hellbringer than their proper source.
Rapture exist as a prime example of form without essential matter. Taken at face value, every track on Paroxysm of Hatred is an adequate example of death-thrash; no deviation, experimentation, or surprises await the listener. It’s easy to say that a fan of Spiritual Healing, Reign in Blood, and Final Holocaust would enjoy the passable pummeling of “Vanishing Innocence.” While a bit long in the tooth, the riffs are decent enough and the vocals are noticeably energetic. This recommendation would be analogous to suggesting Jelly Belly’s cappuccino jellybean to someone who wants a nice Italian café drink because the candy has something in common with the coffee. While technically true, this recommendation would be silly, and recommending Rapture to fans of legendary death-thrash bands is equally so.
I cannot write little enough about Paroxysm of Hatred. The most notable aspect of this record is its lack of notable aspects; I struggle to remember a single riff, transition, or idea Rapture put to tape here. Enduring forty-one minutes of uninspiring adequacy is a surprisingly enervating affair. Friedrich Hayek wrote about the ideal job changing from the passionate entrepreneur who would stake his fortune and reputation on his own idea to the comfortable, faceless bureaucrat at a desk collecting steady pay and a pension. Rapture are this bureaucrat in death-thrash form: without real identity, going through the motions, doing something passable in the most workmanlike way imaginable. Sometimes competent, always well-played, yet wholly uninspiring tedium is the worst fate that can befall a listener; Paroxysm of Hatred certainly inflicts this on the ears.