Sacrificial Blood/Zombie (United States Of America) – Split

The artwork on this is admittedly pretty phenomenal.  Incredibly detailed, utterly oldschool, it looks like it should come out of some delightfully gory and hilarious zombie comic book.  It’s pretty great for the artists on this split, who both play very oldschool styles of thrash metal with a focus on evil, Satan, zombies, riffs, etc.  It’s pretty much what every one of you oldschool thrash fans have been craving your whole lives, as you probably discovered after three seconds of looking at the cover art.  It’s not immensely impressive to me (mostly because I’m not a great thrash fan by any means), but I’d imagine most fans of underground, oldschool thrash metal would likely enjoy this.  It’s simply not my particular cup of tea, essentially because the artists here play distinctly American styles of thrash where I lean towards the Teutonic and South American scenes.  Nonetheless, I can recognize that it’s pretty good for what it is despite its shortcomings in my eyes.

Sacrificial Blood opens the split with a death influenced breed of thrash metal.  Vocals are a grunting snarl and the riffing is taken from the Possessed and very early Death schools of guitar, with thrashy rhythms but a darker sense of melody.  Vocals are a hoarse, snarling growl, and drumming is unobtrusive, thrash-based, and propulsive throughout.  Production is rather degraded and demo quality, with rehearsal room-style drums and somewhat messy guitars that are periodically buried under the vocals.  Bass is sometimes audible during the slower sections, but those are few and far between as the music is generally cranking away with tremolo riffs and thrash beats.  The songs feel a bit overlong at times, like there’s about half as many riffs as there needs to be for each song resulting in an excess of repetition.  The riffs themselves are solid, catchy, and oldschool, but even the best riff can be driven into the ground through excess repetition.

To me, this is the weaker band on this CD mostly due to the production.  The degraded production quality prevents the music from coming together as well as it needs to to really have a cohesive feel, so a lot of the time it sounds more like they’re all different instruments being played alongside each other more than in tandem.  The music is good but raw and unformed at this band’s stage in their career.  I can see fans of filthy, oldschool thrash enjoying this a lot, but that particular aesthetic, to me at least, fits better with South American thrash acts rather than typically American ones.  It’s solid music, but not exceedingly compelling to me.

Zombie, on the other hand, is more my speed.  Playing a slightly punky variety of oldschool thrash metal, the band is tighter and better produced than their split-mates.  Zombie’s music is devoid of the death metal influences of Sacrificial Blood, having a bit more of a crossover, somewhat Nuclear Assault-influenced feel to them.  Riffs are catchy and fast, and vocals are a sort of putrid shout that can only be delivered with a spectacularly over-the-top sneer.  For some reason I get a certain Toxic Holocaust vibe off this music despite the lack of black metal influence.  Occasionally Zombie suffers from the same problems as Sacrificial Blood as far as the songs being a bit too long for their own good at times, but overall I think Zombie has the edge in this split.

Zombie’s music is strong and developed; it’s a shame they broke up soon after this release, but it’s not surprising that several members went on to form now-popular Century Media artist Warbringer.  The material on this split certainly hints at members with a great deal of potential only partially realized on this split.  While the music is good, you can clearly tell that those involved are capable of something more with a bit more time and a larger budget.  It’s an interesting footnote in Warbringer’s career, but the songs stand well enough on their own to sustain repeated listens.

The second artist rather overshadows the first, but I’d say that this is still a decent split.  My passion is somewhat tempered simply due to the genre and the fact that neither band executes their music in a particularly original or inspired way.  Nevertheless, thrash fans would likely enjoy this split greatly.  It’s a fun listen to from time to time if not life-changing, and I don’t regret acquiring my copy.

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~ by noktorn on September 6, 2008.

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