Portugal’s Perpetratör take the all too common stance of modern thrash acts, by shamelessly aping the past and creating a fist-pumping old-school experience on their second LP, Altered Beast. I’ve previously mentioned my general disdain towards a lot of modern thrash bands, due to far too few bands actually moving the genre in exciting and innovative directions. This provides little incentive to reach for new stuff, when much of it comes across as a cheap rehash of the genre’s ’80s heyday. You can accuse me of being a jaded, cynical bastard and I wouldn’t disagree, but I fucking love thrash so the genre’s often stagnant modern scene leaves me underwhelmed. So can the firebrands of Perpetratör help restore the faith or are they merely hurtling towards a copyright lawsuit?
The underground veterans comprising Perpetratör attack their instruments with the kind of vigor and passion that makes it difficult to avoid getting caught up in the band’s sheer energy and accomplished old school thrash chops. The power trio, rounded out by the wonderfully named session drummer Ãngelo Sexo, keep it tight and propulsive, cranking the speed and mixing up tempos and riffs often enough to sustain interest, even if the song-writing rarely excels beyond solid levels of thrashing entertainment. Certainly, the musicianship maintains a very high standard, especially the impressive dual guitar combo, and they perform extremely tightly as a unit. Perpetratör also gain points for trimming most songs down to a lean and punchy three to four minutes, avoiding the common temptation of self-indulgence and song bloat.
Early highlight, “Extreme Barbarity,” thrives on bottling its abundant energy and intensity inside of three minutes. It’s a foot on the pedal rager with an aggressively tight rhythmic onslaught, snarling vocals, memorable riffs and chaotic soloing. And when Perpetratör nail their throwback sound, their foot to the throat execution and solid riffcraft provides welcome headbanging joy. “Lethal Manhunt” is a blood-pumping feast of breakneck speed, over-the-top vocals and killer soloing. And the turbocharged “Terminal Possession” finds the twin guitar assault locked into overdrive, while the ludicrous tempos and unhinged ferocity of “Jungle War” features an almost blackened edge to great effect. There’re a few lesser songs in the mix, but no sore thumb weaknesses present. Closer “Black Sacristy” pleasingly ends the album on a rousing note. The song’s dashing guitar heroics, galloping tempos, and Rick’s signature snarls are complimented by the impressive, power metal-esque vocals of guest Flávio Lino.
The ripping and fittingly titled “Hellthrasher” demonstrates Perpetratör‘s penchant for shredding and even soulful guitar work, complete with mid-song melodic theatrics. Fortunately, the song is kept grounded by the overriding thrashy instincts. It’s an aspect of their sound that Perpetratör manage to rein in, even amidst the flashier guitar work, ensuring they stick closely to their aggressive thrash path. Overall, the songwriting doesn’t hit any massive highs, nor does it slouch, making for a consistently solid listening experience. The vocals are a little too much at times, but don’t lack fiery passion. Overall, they’re well suited to the genre. Altered Beast’s compressed but reasonably full and meaty production lends the instruments and excellent musicianship plenty of bite and clarity.
Despite owing a clear debt to thrash metal’s storied past, from Bay Area titans to the aggressive German thrash scene (dominated by Destruction and Sodom), Perpetratör, while not wholly original, lend a slight whiff of individuality into their old school worship. Do they deliver enough substance and spark to peel me away from the classics and give a damn? Well, Altered Beast certainly hasn’t blown me away but it’s proven a likable detour, bolstered by the band’s gritty, feverish delivery and coupled with ample hooks and guitar fireworks, forming a nice recipe for some headbangable thrash fun.