Killing – Face the Madness Review

Sometimes you simply have to judge a book by its cover. That cover in this case? Brightly colored, hand-drawn depictions of violence. If, like me, you immediately thought that Face the Madness by Killing was an 80s or 90s extreme metal album then you would be absolutely correct. And with the one sheet’s proud boast that it is “probably the best Danish thrash metal record since Excursion Demise by Invocator and By Inheritance from Artillery,”1, these Danes certainly don’t lack confidence. Can it possibly live up to these comparisons?

I’ll be so brave and bold as to compare Killing to Sodom and Kreator. I know this is hardly innovative writing but Face the Madness itself has hardly innovative writing. The opener called “Kill Everyone” is quick, direct and devoid of bullshit, marking an approach which draws straight from the well of 80s thrash. It’s predictably led from the front by its guitars which are sharp enough to be interesting, but blunt enough to have the percussive impact necessary. Almost every instrumental element here works for me; the riffs are strong, the drums command the rhythms and the surprisingly varied vocals have all the sneer and snarl you want from a thrashing band. The bass guitar is somewhat lost in the mix but it’s hardly a deal-breaker. Killing live up to every thrash stereotype and have a blast while doing it.

These Danes have a real sense of urgency. “Kill Everyone” is a microcosm for whole album, running through a couple of verses, a rapid chorus and a frenzied solo, all within 2 minutes. It’s a perfect self-contained track even at its miniature size and doesn’t need to be anything more. There’s no easing, sense of growth or development of tension. Killing just want to storm in and kick your ass, and for the most part they achieve this as these 40 minutes are stuffed to the brim with riffs. “Don’t Get Mad, Get Evil” features a typically on-the-nose 80s pun, with a rock solid shouted chorus. The principle lead is a neck-snapper, and forces me to dwell on the 17 months of gigs I’ve been forced to miss; I can just imagine stomping around the pit to it. The two exceptions to prove the rule are “Straight Out of Kattegat” and “Killed in Action,” both of which aim for something slightly more dynamic. The former opens with seabirds and doomy chords, before it shifts gears with some nifty drum bridges. The extended guitar solo feels a little more dramatic than elsewhere on the record too. But by and large, the record keeps things simple which is to its credit.

Sadly the latter of these 2 tracks (“Killed in Action”) highlights that while the band is essentially a good one, it’s not a great one. Its opening uses layers to build atmosphere which offers a fresh sound for the record, but when it does get heavier it’s slow and plodding. The guitars feel more precise but the tempo stalls as the music feels relatively lethargic. I absolutely appreciate Face the Madness closing with a different flavor but it doesn’t hit the mark which lets down the grand finale of the album. If the entire album were like this song, it would be a very drab affair. In fact, its predecessor called “1942” has all the strengths of earlier tracks but beyond its noodling, speed metal-infused introduction, I found myself tiring slightly. This is partly attributable to the squashed master as the passing of 30 minutes of brick-walled music is fatiguing. But ultimately Killing just lack that edge of quality or innovation to take their work to the next level.

Face the Madness is not bad at all. There’s no getting around the fact that it’s meat and potatoes thrash but sometimes a slab of (substitute) meat and a heap of carbs is exactly what you need. It’s the sort of record I would have hated a few years ago as it’s blunt, unsubtle and Neanderthalic. Fortunately I have now self-corrected and appreciate that not every piece of music is designed to make you reconsider the world. Stand up, grab a beer and stomp around your room. It’s hard to fault Killing for their capacity to entertain in this context.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Mighty Music
Websites: |
Releases worldwide: August 13th, 2021

Show 1 footnote

  1. Yes, it really said this.
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