What can be said about War Curse‘s Final Days? Well, it’s the best Slayer album of 2015. Tapping into Slayer‘s mid-paced, hard-hitting era, War Curse delivers deliberate crushers that are neither lightning speed or slow paced, ripping raw or polished piggery. Debut Final Days is somewhere in between the chaos of ’80s Bay-Area frenetics and the slow-bobbing plodders that are focused on a heavy-as-fuck mentality intended to crack concrete foundations. Even the vocals are carefully calculated. Tarek Puska’s vocal approach is a restrained Tom Arraya, spewing forth lyrical content as anti-government and anti-Christianity as it gets. Weaved within this superbly crafted album (six tracks in thirty minutes), we have catchy choruses, cake-icing guitar leads, and solo work that hints more at their heavy-metal roots than the chaotic shreddings of their thrashy forefathers. In the end, it’s still thrash and I’ve tried to ignore as such. But… I can’t.
After some opening sirens, “Dawn Patrol” fires forward like a hawked-up asshole head-butting random people on the street. Right away, my description of the band’s “restrained” qualities is understood. The riffs rip and roar but don’t outrun themselves and the “angry” is thick but not spontaneously combustable. It’s the kind of pace that modern-day Kreator have damn-near perfected. And when Puska barks out “dawn patrol!” like a sucker-punch to your eardrums, the Mille Petrozza influence rears its ugly, almighty head. Though it’s 100% badass, the chorus of “Dawn Patrol” loses the title of “Most Badass” when “Severed Crosses” appears a couple tracks later. However, vocal memorability only goes so far; therefore, “Severed Crosses” is filled to the brim with head-banging riffs and a thrashtastic breakdown that causes neck fractures. “Severed Crosses” is probably my favorite track on the album and one that makes the “repeat” feature on my media player worth locating. In general, the remaining tracks share many characteristics to their precursors, but with ever-so-slight additions/tangents to the sound. The title track features some fast-picking Testament influences, “New Chemical Warfare” is a classic Slayer piece with an Iron Maiden-meets-Iced Earth melodic interlude, and “Drudge” closes it out with sweeping heavy-metal guitar melodies that eventually blow up into full Warbringer assault.
Anti-societal, anti-governmental, anti-Christianity, and anti-conformity (inhales deeply), now, that’s what I’m talking about. These Ohioans get what it means to be a thrasher and, while their production is by no means ethereal sounding, the instrumentation is nicely balanced and the end-product is highly effective. Don’t expect originality or the paving of new roads, but (next to Reign of Fury) this is some of the best old-school thrash I’ve heard all year. So, if you’re looking for a shotgun offering of thrash that doesn’t overstay its welcome and is crafted to deliver those Bay-Area goods, look no further than Final Days. And for those of us upset with the new Slayer release, this should help.
Tracks to check: “Dawn Patrol,” “Severed Crosses,” and “New Chemical Warfare”