Flames – Resurgence Review

As a dedicated teenage metalhead in the 80s, I lustily sought every new act I could get my greasy ape paws on. Few bands escaped my iron sights and I was willing to try pretty much anything out there to see what struck a nerve. Somehow, someway, Greek speed/thrash act Flames evaded my metal detector then and in all the years thereafter up until this last month. Formed in 1984, Flames spewed out a series of platters that transitioned over time from classic speed metal to technical thrash with slight death elements, culminating in 1996s In Agony Rise. This means they’ve been in some kind of deep cryonic state for 25 years, but they’re out now and seem very pissed off, so we get their seventh album Resurgence. And what that means is some very old-timey thrash metal in the vein of Sodom and Exumer. It has that classic Germanic sound to it and it reeks of the 80s. There’s nary a trace of modernity to what Flames do, and they’re very good at keeping that 80s thrash bubble intact while throwing a cosmic ass-ton of speedy riffs at every problem and obstacle. I can respect that.

After a throwaway intro, the long 25 years of bed rest are cast aside faster than that of Charlie’s slack master grandfather in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. It’s off to the races for the title track as the band tears into a burly thrash sound that reminds me of early Deathrow mixed with the raw power of Agent Orange era Sodom. It’s far from original but the furious and percussive power forces you to like it nonetheless. Throw in some wild guitar solos and you have a highly functional thrash ditty. Thomas Trampouras sounds like a mix of Tom Angelripper and Rob Dukes, and as thrash goes, that’s a pretty respectable neighborhood. His rabid snarling helps the plethora of riffs go down hard. Cuts like “Rotten Life,” “Murder Taste” (ESL masterclass), and “War in Mind” pack enough hot pepper and black powder to make olden thrash material sound fresh enough to buy into, and the band has a knack for keeping things interesting. “Rotten Life” in particular brings the thunder, with a crossover punk fury that will not be ignored.

The album peaks with back-to-back burners “Mercy Denied” and “Shell Shocked” where they keep things sharp, short and shocking, and it’s hard not to enjoy what they’re doing, though you’ve heard it a million times before. The success of these and other cuts is due to the slick, attention-grabbing riff-work and focus on the energy levels. The fat chugs on “Mercy Denied” take me back to knuckleheaded youth where the pit was life, and “Shell Shocked” has its own collection of ear-wrangling riffs and a vague similarity to tragically forgotten thrashers like Forbidden and Faith or Fear. Sadly, into every flame pit some pig grease must fall, and not every track hits equally hard. “The Crib” runs across tempos and moods and ends up okay but awkward, and “Yourself Unknown” is like a bastardized blend of Load-era Metallica and John Bush-led Anthrax that feels too soft and upbeat. Things close out with the rather generic “H8red” and the presence of so much chaff at the back end drags down a quite successful front and middle. The production by Bob Katsionis however is solid, with weighty guitar tones and punchy drums.

This is a thrash album, so riffs are the coin of the realm. Luckily, Thomas Trampouras and Chris Kirk are up to the task and bring a lot of electric snake oil to the revival tent. They’re good riff-technicians and have a strong ear for the 80s sound. Most of the songs are powered down the tracks ably by sturdy fretboard aggression, and the solos walk the line between over-the-top Slayerisms and technical noodling. Beefy, burly chugs appear at appropriate moments to stir the pit, and the basic blueprint is a good one. Trampouras is an above-average thrash vocalist with enough power and edge to do the material street justice and he adds plenty of angry venom to the mix.1 Nick Samios pounds the living death out of his kit, but Andy Kirk’s basswork is consigned to the side of a milk carton. Told you these guys were good at 80s thrash!

Flames missed me for several decades, but now that I feel the fire, I’m happy to have made their acquaintance. This won’t be the best thrash album you’ve heard or make you a fan of the style if you weren’t already, but it’s plenty of fun and scratches that retro speed itch. For a band that sat on their hands for 25 years, this is quite a comeback, so c’mon! Jump in the…Flames.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: No Remorse
Websites: flames.gr | flamesband.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/flamesmetal
Releases Worldwide: July 1st, 2022

Show 1 footnote

  1. The lyrics however are quite terrible, awful, and not good.
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