Devastator – Baptised in Blasphemy Review

One of the best parts of getting older is figuring out exactly what I like and don’t like. I can always explore other genres of music if I want to, but when I want something that I’m almost certain to enjoy, I know blackened thrash is all I need. Fortunately Holdeneye had my back and tipped me off to this debut album by Devastator, a British quartet who just formed back in 2017. Earlier this year Midnight showed us a Rebirth by Blasphemy, now Devastator keep the party going by showing us what it means to be Baptised in Blasphemy. Spoiler alert: there’s a lot of goats, Satan, and fukkin headbangin’ involved.

In the spirit of Bewitcher and fellow British act Hellripper, Devastator play a rollicking combination of blackened speed and thrash metal that’s almost certain to get the noggin’ moving. Opener “Howling Night” achieves this with a simple and addictive Motörhead riff that’s so goddamn good, it doesn’t even matter if the band repeat it a bit too often. Second track “Goat Worship” keeps the energy level high with some more melodic and crunchy ideas that bring to mind Toxic Holocaust (or even Joel Grind‘s Yellowgoat Sessions album from a few years back). Through it all bassist and vocalist Thomas Collings delivers a belligerent rasp that’s perfectly fitting for the style and remains wholly intelligible, which is great news for those (like me) who enjoy screaming along from the comfort of their home offices.

Yet while Devastator have a lot of energy, they also understand how to keep this music engaging for those whose shelves are already stuffed full of Venom and Bathory albums. One of the ways they do this is by incorporating extended instrumental passages where the guitars get more colorful and adventurous. The aforementioned “Howling Night” breaks its galloping attack for an ascendant black metal bridge, while “Spiritual Warfare” features a long instrumental section that climaxes with some classic heavy metal harmonies. The band also incorporate ample variety. Whereas most of these songs come in around four minutes, “Send Them to Hell” and “Death Slut” are sub-two minute thrash assaults that inject some serious destruction into the proceedings. The fact that the band kept “Send Them to Hell” to a mere 89 seconds feels less like a lack of ideas and more like an act of mercy for future live audiences, as its crunchy rhythmic break sounds like its sole intent is to conjure one of the most vicious mosh pits ever seen in the United Kingdom.

Unfortunately both this song and “Death Slut” do make the album’s pacing feel a little strange. Because they’re placed right next to each other in the track list, the album ends up consisting of two fast and short tracks wedged between five slower and longer tracks. For other quibbles, the chorus of “Spiritual Warfare” features layered vocals that feel a little too in-your-face, like someone whacking you on the back of the head and shouting “This is where you’re supposed to be singing along, dammit!” Fortunately there are still plenty of good ideas, from the fast soloing in the title track to the churning tremolos (and whiffs of Desaster) in “Hail Death.” The production is likewise a good fit, with smooth guitars and a loud yet slightly raw sound that reminds me of later Toxic Holocaust albums. The band also wisely keep things short and free of filler, with Baptised coming in at a mere seven tracks and 25 minutes in length.

Devastator know you have a lot of choices when you listen to blackened thrash, and as result they give you more than just rocking riffs (though you do get plenty of those, too). The extended instrumental bridges and two faster songs do a lot to keep the album interesting and while it’d be nice to see the band develop a bit more identity in the future, there’s still plenty of fun to be had here. It’s clear these Brits have studied this style with feverish devotion and as a result Baptised in Blasphemy is sure to get the horns raised high for those who drink deeply from the blackened thrash goblet. Which should be everyone, as far as I’m concerned. Crank it to 11, chug that shitty beer, and bang your fukkin heads!!


Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Clobber Records
Websites: devastatorblackthrash.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/devastatorblackthrash
Releases Worldwide: July 10th, 2020

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