Like father, like son, they say. Hatriot was the side project of Steve “Zetro” Souza of Exodus fame and his sons Cody, who handled bass duties, and Nick, who manned the kit. Their 2013 debut Heroes of Origin was a rip-roaring dose of classic thrash, and though 2014s Dawn of the New Centurion felt like a drop off, it was still a respectable slice of speed. The band’s been silent since then, but From Days Unto Darkness sees the Souza clan return sans dad, with Cody picking up vocal duties.1 Aside from the passing down of the vocal mantle, this is essentially the same beast we heard before, borrowing heavily from the bag of tricks used by Exodus and Slayer for decades. It’s straight up thrash that skews toward the mid-period of Zetro’s main gig and there aren’t many surprises thrown at the listener. So how well do the Souza boys carry on without their esteemed father? Let’s discuss.
Opener “One Less Hell” begins with gentle guitar noodling and the soothing sounds of flowing water. The guitars soon elevate into a soaring solo that reminds me a lot of the intro to “You Can’t Bring Me Down” by Suicidal Tendencies, and things eventually launch into a thrashing fury. The first thing that hits you is just how much Cody sounds like his dad. He’s a dead ringer for Zetro and that both helps the band’s continuity and hurts by reinforcing their overwhelming similarity to Exodus. Parallels aside, there’s a lot the band does right here, but they absolutely kill the song by dragging it out to a wildly excessive 7:31 when it should be about 4 minutes. They pad it with wild solo-work and it’s all quite impressive, but a 7-plus minute thrash song is never a good idea unless your name is Vektor. When the band sticks to shorter thrash assaults they tend to be successful, as on “Daze Into Darkness” which is nasty, brutish and short(ish). It’s got a ton of angry venom and though it’s a bit on the generic side of the ledger, it’s enjoyable.
The band has genuine talent and ability but sadly, they find ways to undercut their efforts more often than not. “Carnival of Execution” is decent Exodus-worship with a solid lead riff, but the band adds in these “whoa-oh-oh” sing alongs that really don’t work. Songs like “Organic Remains” and “In the Mind of the Mad” have solid moments and cool ideas but both run way too long and lose me. Oddly enough, the standout moment may be “Frankenstein Must be Destroyed,” which is another overlong cut at nearly seven and a half minutes. This one works though due to sheer lunacy, at times sounding like a bunch of angry high school kids wrote it. It’s thrashy, frantic and the chorus is silly but sticks like tar and I find myself singing it under my breath at inappropriate moments. Cody leaps between a harsh, sneering bark and deep death metal roar, bringing to mind the best days of Skeletonwitch and it really benefits the song. If the rest of the album was of the same caliber, we’d have a real winner here.
At 52 minutes and change, From Days Unto Darkness runs into many of the same issues West of Hell‘s album did earlier this year. Though the band is skilled, they can’t seem to edit themselves at key junctures, dragging segments and entire songs past their expiration point. Some riffs or ideas are used to beat you to death, and at other times the sheer song lengths do you in. In thrash more than any other genre, less is much more, and this band more than any should know that. Daddy Zetro’s own main band struggled with keeping their thrashers at the optimum length2, so if their cautionary tale is lost on these pups, perhaps it’s a hereditary issue. That’s a shame because this band can play. Kosta V. and new slinger Justin Sakogawa are a high-flying tandem and they shred their brains out during their (too frequent) solo breaks. Likewise, Cody is a savage beast on the mic, blending excellent rasps with booming death bellows. He’s definitely a chip off the old block and dad should be proud. If they could just focus and streamline their writing, the sky would be the limit.
From Days Unto Darkness is a decent thrash outing from a clearly talented crew, but it needs refining. The potential is there, the sound is there, the attitude is definitely there. I hope this squad stays together because they could release something seriously dangerous. Definitely worth checking out for Exodus fans and the hardcore thrashards.