Poland’s Fanthrash couldn’t have chosen a better name for themselves (it’s certainly far better than their original choice – Fantom) as theirs is a music that harks way back to the very first records of thrash. With a sound steeped in early Slayer, Sepultura and the Teutonic terrors Kreator, Fanthrash utilise the benefits of modern production to bring their violent and exhilarating vision of thrash metal to life on new album ‘the duality of things’.
Originally formed in Poland way back in 1986, things didn’t work out as planned and the nascent Fanthrash disbanded in 1992. However, whilst the means may have temporarily vanished, the passion still bubbled under the surface and Fanthrash reformed in 2007, releasing a well-received EP (‘Trauma Despotic’) in 2010 and inking a deal with Rising Records in the process. The fruits of their labour are finally here with their debut album for that label, ‘the duality of things’ proving to be a blistering tribute to all things thrash played by a group of musicians who clearly have a love of metal running through their very veins. The result is an album that will have seasoned metal fans weeping with joy at the sound of a band rejuvenating the ‘classic’ thrash sound and breathing new life into a genre that has seen much in the way of press headlines lately thanks to the new wave of thrash bands treading the boards.
Opening with a suitably moody intro that recalls nothing so much as early Sepultura, the band quickly launch into the Kreator-friendly ‘Allocator of the soul’ a churning blast of chugging guitars, hyper-speed drums and Less’ distinctive, throaty roar. So far, so thrash, but what sets Fanthrash apart from the pack are the numerous small details, the chorus which pairs the guitars back and gives the song a more dynamic sound, the thrilling solo that leads in to the second verse and the unsettling time changes; these things are all indicative of a band that has been rehearsed into the ground and for whom music is the only feasible way of life and the result is quite thrilling. ‘Aggressor’ is even better. Referencing the war-cry of vintage Exodus, there’s a furious power behind the brutal riffs and blood choked roars of Less that is rather like being trapped in front of a Bezerker with his blood up. The harmonised guitars of ‘forced’ lead headlong into another frenzied attack on the senses, ripping flesh and bone in the process an clearly demonstrating the prowess of Greg and Pilate who provide the stunning guitar work across the album. Meanwhile the vocals are gloriously twisted with elements of harmony and delay adding atmosphere and depth to the finished production.
The title track gives Mariusz (who may wish to reconsider the Anglicised version of his name – Mary just doesn’t look right) a chance to kick things off with his thunderous bass before all hell is let loose by the rest of the band, but the highlight here is the memorable chorus that will undoubtedly have fans screaming along when the band play live. It’s a highlight of the album, for sure, but the powerful Slayer-referencing ‘under the open sky’ is no less bruising alternating between a malicious, whispered verse and huge chorus; and ‘trauma despotic’ recalls the splendour of Machine Head’s ‘Davidian’ – no mean feat. In each case it’s clear that Fanthrash are doing more than just paying homage to their heroes. There are certainly plenty of reference points, but the band have cleverly taken the very best of their favourite bands and combined them into one juddering beast of a record all tied together with a top-notch production that showcases each band member in the clearest light possible. Taking a brief detour, ‘green tattoo’ offers the band a chance to slow the pace with a psychedelic riff that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Tool album, although the underlying aggression remains and the song soon ups the ante with massive harmonised guitars and gang vocals.
Mariusz again highlights his dexterity on ‘lizard skeleton’ as do the rest of the band, particularly good drummer Radd, as Fanthrash suddenly and unexpectedly decide to indulge in a bit of King Crimson-esque jazz metal that is as utterly wonderful as it is confusing. The best part, however, is that it works so well whereas it could have tripped up a lesser band, and it showcases just how ambitious and talented Fanthrash are. It also serves to highlight the storming power of ‘Toxic mind’ which actually calls to mind elements of fellow countrymen Hunter with its jarring riffs and inspired vocals. ‘Domino’ is a straightforward thrash battering ram that chugs nicely before the oddly titled ‘Rita from the hills’ rounds things out with a pure old-school riff
Really you couldn’t ask any more of Fanthrash. On ‘the duality of things’ they have delivered an album that cheerfully smashes expectations whilst referencing pretty much every great thrash band of the last two decades. The brief diversion into complex jazz-rock territory raises the bar still further and suggests mind-boggling possibilities for the band’s future development but at the same time the band’s passion and commitment provide the certainty that whatever Fanthrash do next it’s going to kick like a mule. If you dig beautifully played, passionate, brutal thrash metal (and let’s face it, if you don’t you’re probably checking out the wrong website!) then Fanthrash will undoubtedly light a fire under you. This is memorable, powerful stuff indeed and special mention should also be made of the awesome artwork which is all created in-house by the band. ‘The duality of things’ is simply a superb metal album, no more, no less and well worth your time and energy.
You can check out Fanthrash via Rising Records or the band’s own website (handily available in English) here.