As this year comes ever-closer to its conclusion, I couldn’t help but pull up last year’s picks for Records and Song ‘o the Year. It didn’t quite dawn on me that there isn’t a thrash album to be found on my list. In the grand scheme of things, this is not surprising being with the old-farts producing some real turds and the newbies re-hashing the old-fart’s classics. The year, however, harbors some thrash threatening to invade my end-of-the-year picks. Trials new opus was simply grand and Reign of Fury‘s addicting “Death Be Thy Shepherd” is the one track I have spun more than any other this year. And now another thrash band popped out of nowhere and seems determined to duke it out with Reign of Fury. Approaching the genre from a different angle than the upbeat Metallica-meets-Anthrax delivery of Reign of Fury, War Agenda fuses Slayer, Death Angel, Exodus, and Warbringer; resulting in a sucker-punch to the face and a declaration of war on the world. At first glance this appears to be standard warfare but it’s full of thrashtastic spirit and is home to some of the most satisfying gems my thrash-hungry ears have heard in some time.
“Geocide,” “Sentenced,” and “Destiny of a Mad Man” are – simply put – ballbusters. The first opens up with some ripping guitars, exaggerated on every strum by Hamdi’s kicks. Marsel’s vocals add to the devastation with his mix of Mark Osegueda (Death Angel), Zetro Souza (Exodus), and John Kevill (Warbringer), which drop like a missile on the rest of the instrumentation. The chorus is unbelievably catchy and Marsel’s loud shouts of “geocide!” are impossible to resist. “Sentenced” is a straightforward bulldozer with riffs taken straight from Kreator‘s “Hordes of Chaos” that transform into stellar Slayer-isms that encapsulate fist-clenching screams and the back-and-forth vocal contributions from Marsel and The Prophecy23‘s Johannes Klopprogge. The chorus is memorable, even if guest vocals standout a bit too much. Approaching from the rear, “Destiny of a Mad Man” tip-toes in like eerie ’86 Slayer before quickly erupting on your doorstep. After slithering through the main verse, the Slayer-esque staccatos of the chorus are further exaggerated by Marsel’s sharp, emphasizing barks. The song ascends and descends through its mid-section before swinging back around to admire the carnage it generated. With a wry smile, the outro trots away to a rhythm that even Reign in Blood would be pleased to call its own (because it almost is) [Copycatless! – Steel Druhm].
Other happy moments come from opener “Shot to Pieces” (with its charging riffs and Death Angel-meets-Testament bully shouts) and “Gone But Never Forgotten.” The latter is best described as a Big Four collaboration track. Tom Araya on vox, Gary Holt delivering chunky Exodus triplets, and Kirk Hammett showing up toward the end to contribute some wah-wah solo work. The soloing isn’t as good as some of the guitar theatrics found on tracks like “Axis of Evil,” but it still seems to work. Tracks that don’t work as well would have to be the Testamental “The Wait” (with Marsel taking on some Dave Mustaine laziness in his performance) and “Mosh;” a typical every-thrash-band-must-have-a-mosher-number. Neither are snoozers but they really aren’t attention grabbers.
As for the production, it’s what you would expect; loud and compressed. But the guitars are fucking tight and Marsel’s voice is a sultry expression of anger and rebellion. It just fits the music perfectly. Unfortunately, the bass and kit get buried in the mix with the guitars and vocals leading the charge. In fact, the drums don’t sound very good at all. They lack the umph and crispness needed to propel the music, and where they are needed in the beginning of the opener and “Geocide,” they become muffled by six-stringed chaos. In the end, this a fun album that represents another good, old-fashioned offering from the past. These German thrashers keep it simple and all about the Almighty Riff. Though I find myself skipping the occasional track on Night of Disaster, the ones I do step on are fucking land mines.