When we aren’t bashing each other’s favorite baseball team, Dr. Wvrm and I are usually bashing the thrash scene and its lack of output for 2018. So far, my top spot goes to Crisix‘s Against the Odds while Traitor‘s Knee Deep in the Dead might be Wvrm‘s. Both are killer records but I wouldn’t say either are genre milestones. But, as far as this year is going, that’s about it. Each month there’s another release and each month—depending on opinion—they get better or worse. Spain’s Crisix brought it in March. Germany’s Traitor added to it in April. Now it’s May and Canada is here to contribute to the next batch of old-school thrash. And what does Infrared‘s Saviours sound like? It sounds exactly how you’d expect it to sound: like a mix of all the old-school greats back in nineteen-eighty-something. But that’s no surprise. It’s not about what it sounds like, it’s about how good it sounds.
Most of the thrash records this year come to us via the neo-thrash/re-thrash era of the style. But Infrared‘s an odd duck. One could bundle this Canadian four-piece in with the scene’s forefathers from their 1988 demo. Or one could stack them up alongside the pimple-faced youngins because of their 2016 debut LP release—even if it was recordings of material written years before that. With that knowledge to chew on, feel free to place them wherever your little heart desires. But, don’t judge them solely on 2016’s No Peace, as it’s kind of a forgettable disc. At least wait until you hear Saviours. It ain’t gonna turn any more heads than the rest of the 2018 thrashers did, but Saviours is a 180 degree spin from No Peace.
The biggest improvement for the band has been the added diversity. This includes vocals, bass presence, and all the guitar builds, drops, leads, solos, and transitions. Vocal-wise, there’s more punch, passion, and conviction in Armin Kamal’s voice on this disc than there ever was on No Peace. He gets forceful like late-’80s Chuck Billy in the heavy and melodic Testament grooves of “Genocide Convention” and “The Demagogue,” while his inner Tom Araya comes forth in the sinister “Father of Lies.” Then there’s the punch in his voice on the Metal Church-like title track and the balls-out screams toward the end of “Father of Lies.”
The biggest change, though, is the songwriting approach. Most songs build to their mid-point before either dropping off into chill trenches to regroup or pushing up to the next level. “The Demagogue” and “All in Favour,” for instance, transition into Metallica-inspired leads and solos—the former via calm, reverberating melodies and the latter by its impressive, speedy solos. Metallica also inspires “The Fallen” as it builds and falls, digging deep into the feels—much like Met‘s “The Day That Never Comes” mixed with Testament‘s “The Ritual” and Sodom‘s more-melodic stuff. But with odd riffs that remind me of Hendrix‘s “Foxy Lady.” But, the three songs that benefit the most from a mid-song transition are “They Kill for Gods” (a go-nowhere track that explodes into an almost “Creeping Death”-like “kill! kill! kill!”), “Genocide Convention” (with its crushing Exodus-like pace change and full-band chorus) and “Father of Lies” (with a cheesy intro, Slayer-like hauntings, and a final build worth the wait). These three don’t seem to do much in their front half but explode all along the backside.
The issue with Saviours, as I’m sure you can guess, is its Metallicalitus. An affliction that occurs when a song overstays its welcome, thereby decreasing its repeat value. I mean, do the math: eight songs in a little over fifty minutes. That’s Met thrash if I’ve ever heard it. That said, this is a decent album that trumps the band’s debut. It has solid cuts like “Saviours,” “Genocide Convention,” “The Demagogue,” “Father of Lies,” and “They Kill for Gods,” even if it’s a touch on the long side. Unfortunately, its length does make it difficult to get to the end where most of the better songs lie. If you’re into some old-man trash that doesn’t deviate much from a tried-and-true formula, Saviours might be for you.