Mindwars – The Fourth Turning Review

There hasn’t been much thrash that really grabbed me over the last few years. Coming of age as I did in the 80s and having the opportunity to watch the genre born and reach its golden era made me fairly jaded. I appreciate the retro rethrash movement and enjoy a lot of it, but it’s rare a new thrash platter really blows my doors off. Being as Holy Terror was one of my favorite thrash acts, I hoped Mindwars, the band founded by Holy Terror guitarist Mike Alvord could spark the flame of speed in my rusted metal heart. 2018s Do Unto Others was fun, though in retrospect I do think I overrated it. Now that I’ve spent some quality time with their fourth album, The Fourth Turning I can confidently say it’s a step up. It does a lot of things right while avoiding nearly all the pitfalls that seem to trip up thrash bands in the modern era. It’s certainly not the next Reign in Blood, but it’s loaded with hooky, entertaining cuts that satisfy the need for speed, and that’s half the battle in 2020.

Mindwars play a style of thrash with rock influences buried in its DNA. These are catchy tunes, rowdy and beefy but designed to stick. Opener “The Awakening” is a great example. It’s classic thrash with churning, tumultuous and driving riffs paired with snarled vocals and pounding drums. It’s an instantly likeable fist pumper and sneakily contagious. The guitar work from Mike Alvord and Danny Pizzi is first-rate and entertaining as hell. Big riffs, flashy solos, interesting harmonies, you get it all. “MindWars” has an old school Slayer influence and reminds me of their early stuff like “Evil Has No Boundaries” due to the authoritative and effective riffage. “The System” is more restrained, featuring a classic metal vibe and a rocking groove designed to stick in your head after one listen. My favorite track is “Digital Dictatorship” which sounds like a lost Holy Terror tune. The riffs are fast and heavy and the crazed vocals are much like the late, great Keith Deen.

I enjoy every song, and “Blood Red” even carries hints of “Reanimator” by Sacrifice, one of my favorite thrash songs of all time. The Fourth Turning works because they get a lot of the little details right that make thrash fun and engaging. It’s not all one blinding speed and the material plays with pacing and energy levels effectively, introducing traditional metal ideas regularly. At times they even remind me of Kryptos, which is never a bad thing. The songs are all kept in that crucial 3-4 minute window so nothing ever feels bloated, and the writing is sharp and memorable. Add a highly manageable 43 minute runtime and you have a smart build. My only real criticism is the riff that begins “Marching Off to War” is almost exactly the same as that in Slayer’s “Mandatory Suicide” and it’s jarring every time it comes on. If I’m being a crusty old crank I could also complain about the needless cover of Slayer’s “Criminally Insane” tacked on the end of the album. It adds little to an already solid thrash outing while removing any doubt about them knowing that purloined riff’s trve owner.

Alvord has always been a talented guitarist and he and Danny Pizzi really go all in this time. They let simple but memorable riffs drive the songs and divert at appropriate moments for smoking solos and slick, ear catching harmonies. Vocally Alvord jumps around quite a bit. Sometimes he reminds me of Tim Blackman from long forgotten Faith or Fear, sometimes he sounds like Schmier from Destruction and others he does a mean Keith Deen. This is talented band with a keen ear for what works and what doesn’t and they seem to be getting better with each release.

The Fourth Turning is a catchy thrasher with charm. It doesn’t reinvent any wheels and it falls just short of being a year-end list maker, but it does a lot of things well and delivers speed and hooks in the right combinations. Holy Terror may be gone, but Mindwars is a good consolation prize. Take this turn.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 10 | Format Reviewed: 256 kbps mp3
Label: Dissonance Productions
Websites: mindwarsofficial.com | facebook.com/mindwarsband
Releases Worldwide: September 25th, 2020

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