What is an Inculter? Is it the person sitting behind the registration table at your local religious cult convention? You know, the one who greets you, helps you select the appropriate cult, provides the correct forms for you to fill out, and introduces you to the last family you’ll ever have? Or could it be that all-important person involved in the metal production process who is directly responsible for injecting the proper amount of cvltness into the music? Could it have something to do with yogurt and gut health? After pondering this riddle for some time, I continued to draw a blank and decided to listen to Fatal Visions, the sophomore full-length from this simple yet mysteriously named Norwegian band. Perhaps the music holds the answer.
After many spins, I’m convinced that Inculter is the Norwegian word for “producer of righteous thrash.” Holy smokes, this rips from front to back. Imagine an insanely tight and fast Slayer fronted by Sepultura‘s Max Cavalera, and you have a decent picture of the blistering ride that is Fatal Visions. Lead off track “Open the Tombs” begins with three-quarters of a minute of relative calm as classic power chords herald the coming storm. Use those seconds wisely, as the rest stops are few and far between after this. When the thrash riffing begins, a smile works its way onto my face and doesn’t leave for the next 33 minutes (or 67 if I play the record twice, which is almost required).
While I love thrash, some of the genre’s most brutal and fast records have failed to grab me. I can appreciate the visceral speed of Darkness Descends and Pleasure to Kill, but the all-out aggression makes those albums tough listens for yours truly1. The speed with which Inculter play initially had me thinking that Fatal Visions was destined for a similar fate, but they’ve thrown enough change-ups between the fastballs to pitch a near perfect thrash game. “Impending Doom” features some Maiden leads, “Endtime Winds” builds up with some ominous South of Heaven moodiness, and “Towards the Unknown” contains an “Angel of Death” inspired chugging breakdown, and all of this makes the thrash riffs — my God, the riffs — seem even more relentless by comparison. Check out the lead after the short bass intro to the embedded “Final Darkness” for a sample of what this powder keg has on tap.
The Herbrand Larsen (ex-Enslaved) master only makes things more impressive. Quiet, clear, and clocking in at DR 12, I was able to crank my headphones, stereo, and car speakers to almost unused volume levels for Fatal Visions. Cato Bakke’s bass can be heard rumbling behind the riffs at almost all times, adding a tremendous amount of depth to the album. Drummer Daniel Tveit is a complete maniac, nailing the thrash rhythms and stuffing almost every void with impossibly fast fills. Remi’s Cavalera grunts are nothing new, but since Beneath the Remains is one of my favorite thrash albums, they work perfectly here. But it’s his guitar work combined with that of newly added axeslinger Lasse Udjus that shines most brightly on Fatal Visions. Their riffs are razor sharp, and they litter the songs with melodic licks, chaotic leads, and blazing tremolos to add a serious amount of nuance to be gleaned upon repeat listens. Every track here is a winner, but “Shepherd of Evil,” “Impending Doom,” “Endless Winds,” and epic closer “Through Relic Gates” take the pulverized remains of the cake.
While I was overwhelmed by the speed of Fatal Visions on first listen, the amazing production, depth of songwriting, and technical chops on display here have created an experience that unfolds and grows stronger with each spin. This is modern thrash that sounds like classic thrash, and it’s the strongest record of its kind that I’ve heard in several years.