There is a good chance that you haven’t come across Beyond Description before despite the fact that they’ve been churning out blistering thrash since 1988. That is, however, a shame, as this veteran Japanese thrash mob are seriously good at what they do. Boasting gnarly sleeve art (which is what you’d imagine Oliver Stone’s dreams may look like in cartoon form), Beyond Description gain instant marks by refusing to mess around with anything as unnecessary as a moody intro, preferring to leap straight into the fray with the crushing ‘recovery’.
With the exception of the bass heavy production job you’d be forgiven for believing that Beyond Description think it’s still 1988. Referencing vintage Slayer, Exodus and Testament with a healthy dose of Metallica thrown in for good measure, subtlety is certainly not high on the boys’ agenda, rather they exist to bang heads and drink beer with neither one favoured over the other. With nice chugging riffs and vocals that veer between an unhinged Tom Araya and a steroid-crazed James Hetfield (via several joyous cries of “yeah-er-yeah!”) this is straight up , old-school thrash with attitude and as the pile-driving riff of ‘Atonement’ gives way to gang chant vocals and proficient, if not astounding, solos you’d be a particularly snobbish elitest indeed if you’re not tempted to bang your head at least a few times. As metal as a cut off denim top complete with patches lovingly sewn on, this is a fantastic blast of high octane, adrenalin charged metal created by musicians who, if I am not very much mistaken, grew up living and breathing their heroes with only one thought in their heads – to learn to play, and carry the torch in their own homeland, a country not noted for its internationally successful thrash bands. It’s all done with such zeal and verve that it is pretty much irresistible and the brief, brutal ‘change’ ably demonstrates the band’s strengths over its brief (sub three minute) run time. However, the highlight has to be the stand-out ‘attack’ which is the brightest of the tracks here, blazing away with an infernal light and cheerfully recalling the might of vintage Slayer – a worthy achievement indeed and one that is liable to have you launching yourself around your room in a fit of metal-induced insanity if played at suitable volume.
‘Tame’ is up next and, as you might have guessed, it’s anything but blasting out of the speakers with a glorious, wah-inflected ferocity and while you do start to notice that the band have the annoying habit of fading out their songs rather than furnishing them with proper endings, it’s likely you’ll be having too much fun to care anyway! Finally slowing down, ‘reveal’ features a gentle introduction complete with the obligatory harmonised solo although the mixing damages the intent somewhat placing the rhythm significantly higher in the mix than the lead, although it is only the briefest of worries before the band come crashing back in with their size elevens and trample gleefully over any notions of melody or respite. It’s a gutsy, crashing number that has a vicious groove and swing and it’s another track that undoubtedly sleighs the mosh pit. ‘Intent’ opens with some evil, Dave Lombardo-esque drums before heading off in a roadrunner-inspired frenzy, upping the tempo levels once again before ‘desire’ kicks down the door with a great melodic riff which is in a more modern vein than the other tracks on offer here. Unfortunately the vocals fare less well here and the mixing once again damages the overall impact of the song suggesting something of a tight budget for the recording process. Final track ‘Climb’, however, gets things back on track with the rolling toms of the introduction combining nicely with the bass to create a fat groove which the guitars match nicely for a thrash-meets-Iron-Maiden-Gallop finale.
Criticisms? Well I have a few, although they are not significant. The main bone of contention is the production which just does not do the band justice. This is particularly noticeable on the vocals which are painfully dry in places, and you just get the feeling that Hideyuki Okahara is not being done full justice. Equally the guitars are generally tight and excellent, but the production often favours the wrong one in the mix leaving solos buried behind enthusiastically loud rhythm parts for no obvious reason or benefit. That said there is enough devastating skill and enthusiasm pouring from the speakers that these oversights can be forgiven and if you like your thrash brutally raw then this will certainly offer much. Overall this is an enjoyable, violent ride that blasts your brain without out-staying its welcome and it’s furiously good fun while it’s on. A thrilling, violent, thrash metal ride that brims with passion, energy and commitment.