The artwork is so typical and the title, silly and banal as hell. Even a cursory glance at the pointy [also terrible – AMG] band logo should immediately hint at which metal sub-genre this band belongs to, but hang on for a second and hold back that derisive snort: this is actually pretty good shit!
As far as Happy Metal Guy is concerned, this record sounds more interesting than the upcoming Sodom album. Pessimist has not been around longer than that similarly war-obsessed, Teutonic thrash giant (and Death from Above is only their second studio album), but they sure know how to breathe a little new life into the overplayed sub-genre in a way that Sodom does not seem interested in trying out. Basically, it’s how Pessimist plays a brand of thrash metal with progressive tendencies: individual song lengths can go upwards to slightly over 7 minutes, electric guitar motifs are typically elaborate, electric guitar solos sound expressive and fleshed out, and there is no abusing of uncreative “thrashing attacks” to serve as bridges between the main sections of every song.
The chemistry between the lead and rhythm guitars creates some really mesmerizing moments, especially the ones heard in the introduction of “Feindfahrt” and lead-up to the climactic guitar solo of “World of Pain”. For a really fantastic display of rhythmic groove, check out the bouncy “Death From Above”. For fret-board-destroying shredding, check out “The Fallen”. Also, the mellower songs such as “Antisocial Bastards” and “The Last Bastion” feature serene guitar strumming that wouldn’t sound out of place in the soundtracks of old ‘Wild West’ movies.
As if imitating the eerie calm of the first nightfall of war, there is even an instrumental track (“Behind The Veil”) that begins with peaceful strumming before breaking out into a furious thrash attack. Aren’t you glad that this instrumental track does not seem to sound like one of those filler songs that seem to be occupying space on a disc simply for the sake of fulfilling that cliché of having at least one instrumental track on any heavy music album?
While it’s a pleasantly surprising find and surprisingly pleasant album to listen to, Pessimist’s Death from Above still doesn’t best Havok’s Time Is Up as Happy Metal Guy’s hitherto favorite re-thrash record in terms of sheer musicality. But it’s still a commendable effort nonetheless, because in this day and age, making re-thrash sound intricate and exciting is already a difficult feat to achieve in itself. If Pessimist ever considers exploring novel but not overtly wild lyrical themes in future (e.g. the joys of living, social harmony and the art of sunbathing), Happy Metal Guy is optimistic that they will stand out even more in the China-sized thrash metal crowd.