You know, we just don’t review enough thrash metal anymore. It’s all that damn death metal we waste our days discussing. It makes us forget the simple joys of a speedy, jacked up dose of aural frenzy ripped right from 1986. Luckily for us all, Dust Bolt is around to remind us, and their sophomore album Awake the Riot is designed with German precision to do just what the title says. As on their Violent Demolition debut, these chaps rock a hybrid of Kreator circa Extreme Aggression and Coma of Souls and the classic Bay Area sound, especially Slayer. And just look at that beautiful cover awash in all the shades from orange to other orange. Sure as shit it tells a seasoned metaller exactly what to expect and warns them to brace their necks for the whiplashery to come. That’s old timey thrash, baby! But is it good?
Well, yes, most of it is pretty damn good. They have a knack for crafting fast and furious burners with authentic energy and some righteous riffs. Since thrash is all about the riffs, that’s a big part of the battle. Rippers like opener “Living Hell” and “Soul Erazor” remind us just how cathartic thrash can be and that scream in the beginning of the latter song is High Top and bullet belt approved. As these songs explode, crunchy riff builds on crunchier riff and everything is faster than everything else, just as it should be.
“You Lost Sight” and “Agent Thrash” channel the punky energy of mid-period Sodom and “Living a Lie” is overflowing with Kreator-esque riffs and attitude. “Drowned in Blind Faith” infuses a vintage Sepultura vibe and I’m a sucker for the climbing, off-kilter riffs dotting “World Built to Deceive.”
Of the lot, only the ironically titled “The Monotonous – Distant Scream” feels like a total misstep. It’s too long and really drags, though it has nifty guitar-work on the back end. “Eternal Waste” also feels a bit generic and filler-ish, but it’s angry enough to be passable.
So what else holds this beast back? Well, despite the solid riffing and writing, this critter is WAY too long at 58 minutes. Even quality thrash has a saturation point and for me it sets in right around the 40 minute mark. When you consider the greatest thrash album of all time (Reign in Blood) clocked in at a mere 28 minutes and the second greatest IMHO (Darkness Descends) was only 35 minutes, one should be forewarned against dropping 20-30 minutes of additional thrash and still expecting undivided attention. To make matters worse, they save the two longest songs for last when focus is sure to be strained and diffuse. Back to back seven minute ditties on the ass end of a long album is no way to plan a platter, unless you’re Metallica and it’s 1988.
They also have a propensity to let the songs run one or two minutes longer than necessary, repeating ideas when they should get in, hit hard and move on. Even the highly enjoyable ‘Soul Erazor” feels about a minute too long. “Trim” is not a four letter word, guys.
Length and editing issues aside, Awake the Riot is everything you want in a thrash album. It has the good sense to steal from the best of the genre and it doesn’t ease up on the speed, aggression and furious fun. These guys are the real deal and should be getting plenty of notice with this release. Put it on, turn it up and thrash like Ronald Reagan is President again.