Chainbreaker. It’s a name that conjures images of freedom being won, justice being attained, and dragons being mothered, but it only takes a cursory listen to the lyrics on Lethal Desire to realize that this is a band whose aspirations are not nearly so lofty. Comprised of former members of Toxic Holocaust and Cauldron, Toronto’s Chainbreaker specializes in speedy thrash anthems dedicated to Hell, killing, drugs, and what the Bible refers to as fornication, and sometimes all of these at one time. If that sounds like a recipe for a fun afternoon, evening, or even morning, trust me when I say that sometimes things are exactly what they seem. Lethal Desire is twelve tracks of fun heavy metal. No more, no less.
This is Chainbreaker‘s debut full-length, and it finds the band taking the speed/thrash metal of Toxic Holocaust and injecting elements of classic metal and hard rock to create a diverse and entertaining set of songs. “Born Loud” showcases the album’s buzzsaw guitar tone and a rumbling main riff that recalls old school Swedish death metal before charging into an insane thrash riff. Contrast the heaviness of that track with “Get Yer Feed,” a song that approaches Mötley Crüe levels of hair metal swagger, and you might think that this album is hopelessly without identity. But somehow these elements blend into a relatively cohesive mixture of styles that never feels forced. The title track jumps right back into full on thrash mode after a short doomy intro, then “Methalina” comes along sounding like a bastardization of Crüe and Accept to pay homage to an idyllic vision of professional women who work in exchange for crystallized substances.
Almost every song on here stands out with its own style. Vocalist Rob Ouellette has a raspy almost blackened delivery, and somehow it works for the hard rock tracks like “The List,” the Slayerish tracks like “Postmortem Dreams,” and the blistering speed metal of “Leatherized.” Ian Chains, who also performs guitar duties for Cauldron, knows his way around metal of every type. “Atomica” sounds like Hetfield wrote the riffs and Mustaine wrote the solos, the speed metal is tight, and the groovy rock riffs are top-notch. Everything here meets the standard of really good albums you’ve heard before, but that’s the catch. You’ve heard this before. Almost every song has me thinking of some other band, but they’re performed well enough that I was never tempted to switch to the classics.
The production is super loud, but it sounds better than the DR 5 would have you think. The deep rumble of the guitar tone was one of the first things I noticed, and it continued to be one of my favorite parts of the album. There are some truly killer tracks here. “Born Loud” is one of the best thrash songs I’ve heard all year1 and even includes a playful use of the word “masturbation.” The band hits speed metal out of the park on “Hellbound,” and “Methalina” is a great hard rock tune that pleases on every listen. The whole thing flies by in a compact 34 minutes and while all of it is fun, there’s not a whole lot that will work its way into your memory after the music stops.
While Chainbreaker may not be shooting to bring about the ideals of freedom and justice, they’ve certainly made it their mission to exercise the freedom to do justice to as many different styles of metal as possible on the same album. Whether you’re a fan of 80s thrash, speed, hair, or even early 90s death metal, there’s something here that will make you smile with nostalgia. No new ground is broken, but sometimes it’s best to leave the ground intact, post up, and enjoy the party.
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Hells Headbangers Records
Websites: chainbreaker-canada.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/chainbreakersteel
Releases Worldwide: February 15th, 2019