To this day, I’m convinced that part of what hurt thrash the most1 was metalcore. The incessant need for bands, like Hatebreed, to shove a fucking “breakdown” into every single song found thrash bands everywhere chasing after that trend. Not that thrash wasn’t already using this technique but I swear it’s worse now. Not only does every rethrash outfit depend on this predictable tool, but even the old dudes have discovered the pit response of “the breakdown.” Hell, Exodus‘s Exhibition B: The Human Condition is nothing but breakdowns.2 Now, don’t get me wrong, being the child of the thrash era, I love when a song turns on end and a chugging lick crescendos into a neck-snapping attack. But, I also miss the days when a band could write a thrash classic that wasn’t waiting around for that mid-song savagery. War Curse also remember those good ol’ days. That’s why they gave us Eradication.
In my recent Stellar Master Elite review, I mention how 2019 is full of anticipated releases. Well, War Curse‘s Eradication is by far my most anticipated album of 2019. After doing a TYMHM piece on their killer debut, Final Days, back in 2015, I’ve been waiting ever-so-impatiently for this Ohio quintet’s follow-up. And, now that it’s here… it’s exactly what I was hoping for. With a new frontman and Exhorder/Heathen‘s very own Jason Viebrooks on bass, Eradication comes down from the sky like a fucking A-bomb. Since Final Days, the band has grown into their songwriting, vocal arrangements, and their need to keep a thrash piece whole. Not only that, but you can feel the attention to detail and the painstaking execution of Eradication. And, so far, this is the Thrash Album o’ the Year.
“Asylum” opens the album with simplistic Metallica-meets-Testament vibes. Though its continuous riff changes may feel drawn-out at times, this ditty is only five minutes in length, yet with the varying depth of an eight-minute track from Reign of Fury‘s Death Be Thy Shepherd. The same goes for “Iron Veil.” Though it has a title reminiscent of a Sodom track, it depends on the same Metallica/Reign of Fury approach as the opener. Not to mention it has a surprising melodic midsection followed by a slick Megadeth lick and Chuck Billy-esque vox. Precursor, “Serpent,” also has that classic Met-meets-Test sound, with a mid-song transition that has a shitload of Billy finesse. But it’s the closing guitar melodies and solo work of “Serpent” that make it stand out almost as much as its “Iron Veil” partner.
But no song on Eradication has shit on “Sands of Fate,” “Deadly Silence,” and closer “Polluted Minds.” “Asylum” and “Serpent” get amped by the incredible guest guitar solos from Glen Alvelais and Kragen Lum, respectively. But the vocal contributions of Exhorder‘s Kyle Thomas on “Deadly Sin” give it balls it could never get from Blaine Gordon alone. Though that might sound like an insult against Gordon on this Testament-to-Slayer beast, it’s not. Because he destroys the closer. Alongside some Iced Earth/Iron Maiden melodics, Gordon’s vocals are meaner and nastier than any on the album. And when the mid-paced licks turn into a bludgeoning assault, Gordon’s vocals shine brighter than ever. And that fist-pumping outro is one of the best I’ve heard on a thrash album in years. But “Sands of Fate” is the bee’s knees. Its combination of badass Slayer and Testament riffage, its unforgettable chorus, and its ability to keep you on your toes through its ascending and descending waves make it a Grier favorite and one that could see itself on my year-end list.
Eradication far exceeds the variety of its predecessor and Gordon’s vocal approach is multi-dimensional. While he could give more balls to the choruses of “Eradication” and “Sands of Fate,” the latter is still a fucking classic. Though the title track and the Exodus-y “Possession” are not the same caliber as the rest of the album, this forty-four minute LP flows from beginning to end. And “Polluted Minds” couldn’t be a better way to close the album. So, Eradication has the highest 3.5/5.0 rating I’ve ever given. It’s damn-near a 4.0/5.0. But, being the stickler I am for the all-too-Grier rating scale, this’ll have to do. Here’s too a thrasher that brings back my childhood and has me dreaming of a “Blackened” world.