Album Title: Salvation Like Destruction
Label: Iron Bonehead
This is the first full-length album from Assaulter, an Australian band playing black/thrash metal.
The guitar sound on "Salvation Like Destruction" is rather odd, and had me double-checking my turntable: sort of a high, thready sound with a buzzing overtone. Along with the snarled vocals and somewhat treble-heavy drum sound, this seems to drain some of the low-end out of the music -- there's a good amount of bass, but the competing guitar tone makes it seem a little anemic somehow. You get used to it by the end, but to my ears, the thin production hurts this record a bit.
Fortunately, the songwriting more than makes up for it. This band has only gotten better since their demos, and the new songs here are vicious and powerful. "Talon and Teeth" is a thrashing track with several different headbanging parts. "The Axiom Star" is a mid-paced, loping song with a particularly notable vocal performance. It speeds up a bit before the end, as the vocals combine with an inspiring guitar line in a huge buildup. "Glory Alone" is by far the best track on the record, an epic, sprawling paean to war. As always, this band's lyrics are sublime, and they are delivered here with stunning conviction. The crushing closing section is especially great!
The second side consists of three re-recorded songs from Assaulter's demos ("Proselytiser", "Vengeance Whips", and "Between Gods and Men"), along with a new one, "Awe of Fire". The latter opens with an impressive instrumental section, then moves into the main melody, a stomping, rumbling headbanger whose theme and deliberate pacing recall Bathory's classic, "For All Those Who Died". The shout-along chorus here is one of my favorite moments on the record, and the lead guitar work is also very good. The re-recorded tracks are great as well: two thrashers and an epic. I wish they'd had room left over for "The Great Subterfuge" as well, but I think they picked the three best tracks from the demos.
Fans of black/thrash should definitely hear this, especially followers of the Australian scene. If it had a heavier production, it might be even better, but "Salvation Like Destruction" still earns my highest recommendation.
Standout Tracks: "The Axiom Star", "Glory Alone", "Awe of Fire"