Vicious Knights – Alteration Through Possession Review

‘Vicious’ can be defined as deliberately cruel or violent. Not a term one naturally associates with the popular image of the gallant knight, enduring all sorts of perils and dragons to save—and, if he’s lucky, fondle—the princess. But in what, I suppose, is an effort to invert or undermine conventional images, Vicious Knights is the chosen moniker of this thrash trio from Thessaloniki, Greece. Formed in 2016 and with a demo and an EP under their belt, they scored a deal with German label, Dying Victim Productions, and are now ready to unleash their codpieces debut LP.  Now, stare into those curiously dead eyes in the photo below and tell me how Vicious you think those Knights are.

Let’s just agree to just skip straight past the utterly pointless 30 second ‘atmospheric’ intro, “Infestation,” which feels like it’s building to unleash the first proper track and then … utterly fails to do so. When Alteration Through Possession does get going on “From Nothingness (To a Slave of Darkness), however,” Vicious Knights rip straight out of the gates with an old school thrash vibe, summoning the likes of Kreator and Beneath the Remains-era Sepultura as influences. Alteration through Possession is all lightning fast riffs, furiously pounding drums and a galloping groove-laden bass. Guitarist Harvester handles mic duties, belting out gore drenched tales in a hoarse, rasping growl, which I initially dismissed as lacking depth but actually grew on me considerably, the more time I spent with the record.  I don’t know whether Harvester is also responsible for the bits of spoken word on the record, like at the beginning of “The Boneghoul King (The Miserly)” and “It was in my House” but, whoever is, should give it up. Now. They are laughably bad.

Putting that to one side, however, Vicious Knights have written some really good songs for Alteration through Possession, including the galloping riffs of “The Boneghoul King (The Miserly),” the great leads from Harvester that take over the back end of “Sleep with Ghouls” and even the punky drums-and-bass only passage of frantic, cascading closer “Disenchanting the Matter (The Statue Is Alive)” works well. I wanted to dislike “Vicious Knights,” because I find it irritating when bands name songs after themselves, but the sheer frenetic energy on show is hard to escape, as are the reverential nods to Metallica‘s Kill ’em All and “The Four Horsemen,” in particular.

At the same time, there does seem to be a bit of a formula to a lot of the tracks on Alteration through Possession, with the basic mold being all out speed thrash for a couple of minutes, followed by a slower passage, building in a bit more groove and a mid-paced lead, slap on a quick solo and then a quick shift back up through the gears to full speed. Vicious Knights do this well, it has to be said, but after repeated listens it does begin to feel just a bit too familiar and comfortable. Alteration Through Possession only clocks in at 35 minutes, however, and I can’t help but feel that had that same pattern been spread across the record as a whole, rather than across each song, it would have been much more effective. On the whole, the production is solid without being remarkable. Drummer Liakos’ cymbals are a little clipped but the kit otherwise sounds decent and Harvester’s guitar has a nice tone to it. The bass, handled by Panos, occasionally goes missing but for the most part serves its purpose well.

Are Vicious Knights doing anything new here? No, absolutely not. Quite the opposite in fact. These boys are harking straight back to the late 80s but it’s hard not to enjoy Alteration Through Possession. It’s straightforward, well written, and well executed old school thrash, if a little formulaic. But hey, the formula is sound, so why the hell not? For a debut album from what appears to be a pretty young band, Alteration Through Possession shows Vicious Knights have real potential. With this first full length now under their collective belt, it’s to be hoped they will take a few more risks in the songwriting and play with the formula a little on their next outing.


Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Dying Victims Productions
Websites: viciousknights.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/viciousknights.Band
Releases Worldwide: January 28th, 2022

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