Shrapnel (UK)
The Virus Conspires


3.8
excellent

Review

by Voivod STAFF
February 15th, 2014 | 21 replies | 3,101 views


Release Date: 02/04/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Adventurous thrash made flesh.

Out of all the rock/metal-based genres that were resurrected during the 21st century, thrash’s revival was probably the most needed. As the ‘80s were about to end, the genre was becoming more and more refined and adventurous on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. For different reasons, the birth of death/black metal and the worldwide supremacy of grunge during the early ‘90s, disrupted the genre’s evolution and led many promising outfits either to disband or to exist strictly within the underground. In contrast to what was the case during the ‘80s, the ‘90s and the first half of the ‘00s, the most encouraging thing about the contemporary rock/metal music scene is the absence of polarity with respect to fans going about every genre, every trend, and consequently every old or new outfit trying to make a stand.

As far as newly emerging thrash metal outfits go, Shrapnel from Norwich, England, appear to be worthy of attention. The band made a solid entry in 2009 with the 5-song EP No Saviours, an essential emulation of every style of Bay Area thrash, crossover included. The follow-up and self-financed EP The Devastation To Come in 2010, was an excellent piece of modern heavy/thrash metal, as the band progressed substantially in terms of sound production, song arrangements and individual performances. Sometimes progression tends to be rewarded by third parties, hence Shrapnel were hand-picked by Candlelight Records and recorded their debut album The Virus Conspires, a collection of 11 songs that sets the bar high for the band and their peers.

Before going into the music, a special reference should be made about the vocals and the lyrics. Contrary to what applies for some thrash outfits, the vocal work is as agitating as good thrash demands by default, while it perfectly endorses the equally agitating music. However, good vocals without good lyrics would make for a half-assed deal, and fortunately, the band has that sector covered as well. To that end, it seems that Shrapnel have thoroughly studied Ed Repka’s legacy artwork about administrations and individuals congregating behind closed doors for the spoils of power and wealth. As a result, the album’s relevant and fluent storytelling is reminiscent of Kevin Spacey’s monumental work in Usual Suspects.

Musically speaking, Shrapnel’s debut album puts at display an adventurous blend of speed/thrash metal in the vein of bands like Slayer, Heathen, Testament, Exodus, Kreator, and Overkill and their respective late ‘80s/early ‘90s work. Needless to say, but in order to play like the said outfits and make some really interesting music, the instrumental prowess is a necessary prerequisite, and all Shrapnel musicians are way above average in that respect. The tempo of the album is tense and constantly fluctuating, first of all due to the technical drumming. The rhythm guitars, sometimes coupled to the beat of the drums, adopt the right riffs for the right occasion, and with their well-thought circular succession per song, dilution of the “have heard this before” notion is accomplished. The album’s lead guitar work is yet another highlight, as it lies on the same level with the work of bands such as Heathen and Prototype.

In conclusion, more than half of the album (see recommended tracks below) should be included in every dedicated thrash metal playlist, while the relatively weaker material tends to grow with repeated listening sessions. Speaking about weaknesses, a track list of 8-9 songs would make the album much more cohesive, while the volume of the rhythm guitars seems to be slightly compressed, compared to the The Devastation To Come EP. The aforementioned shortcomings do compromise the album’s merit to a minor extend, however as a whole, Shrapnel’s debut is a well designed antibody against the viruses conspiring (sic) towards stagnation in thrash metal.

Recommended tracks:
Kingdom Come
Titan
The Virus Conspires
PseudoCommando
Poison The Mind
All That We Know



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user ratings (16)
Chart.
3.5
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Voivod
Staff Reviewer
February 15th 2014



5626 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8 | Sound Off

Album stream - http://candlelightrecordsusa.bandcamp.com/album/the-virus-conspires




Constructive criticism is most welcome.


Digging: The 3rd and the Mortal - Painting On Glass

menawati
Contributing Reviewer
February 15th 2014



14614 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

nice review, in the mood for something like this going to listen

Digging: Motorpsycho - Trust Us

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
February 15th 2014



5626 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8 | Sound Off

Thanks man, be sure to crank the volume when you listen to "Titan".

On another note, I dig the abstractness of the album artwork.

menawati
Contributing Reviewer
February 15th 2014



14614 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

title track is great

titanslayer
February 15th 2014



900 Comments


Thrash isn't really my thing, I might check this anyway

FearThyEvil9
February 15th 2014



11411 Comments


I'll be looking into this.

tempest--
February 15th 2014



10967 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Great review, as always, Voivod! Will check this out :D

manosg
February 16th 2014



4717 Comments


Good review man. I listened to Titan and it's a great song. I'll probably give this album a listen at some point.

Digging: Jan Akkerman - Tabernakel

freedomofspeechnoway
February 16th 2014



407 Comments


This review is well written and I think makes some nice historical references that serve as
appropriate context. Final paragraphs don't need to begin with 'In Conclusion' though. I guess
that's more of a preference. I think it stops the natural flow of a good piece.

I enjoyed the read though, so thank you.

R6Rider
February 16th 2014



4086 Comments


if Kill likes this then I'll listen

Digging: Arecibo - Lost In Consciousness

tempest--
February 16th 2014



10967 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

well its thrash after 94 so he prob wont

R6Rider
February 16th 2014



4086 Comments


true

TheNotrap
February 16th 2014



7821 Comments


Sounds promising, will check this out.

Nice review.


Wizard
February 16th 2014



18799 Comments


Great review buddy. Revival thrash or not, most of it bores the snot of me. My Slayer worshipping days are over!

Digging: Lord Mantis - Death Mask

Jruined
February 16th 2014



1273 Comments


No link?


What I found rules. Thanks.


Voivod
Staff Reviewer
February 17th 2014



5626 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8 | Sound Off

Thanks guys.

Yeah, revival thrash tends to go through the motions most of the time, while most of the old school thrash has not aged that well, I'm afraid.

Shrapnel, on the other hand, have really shuffled the cards of the deck to everybody's benefit. Along with the last Exarsis album, The Virus Conspires lies among the few revival thrash albums I have really enjoyed.

tempest--
February 17th 2014



10967 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Listening now, it's alright but nothing's really making them stand out. Don't see why you like this so much over any number of other recent thrash albums.

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
February 17th 2014



5626 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8 | Sound Off

^^The band does not reinvent the wheel, but the music sounds fresh.

The recommended songs of the album (4/5) have that adventurous/tech thrash edge, and I have a soft spot for that kind of thrash. Plus, the said material has a high replay value, I caught myself listening to those songs again and again. The rest of the album is not as strong (3.6/5), but it's certainly enjoyable.

Furthermore, there aren't so many contemporary bands that thrash like that, I only know Heathen, Exarsis and Vektor. On another note, the album reminded me some of my all time favourite adventurous/tech thrash albums (see recs) and that's saying something too.

Of course the above is just my opinion, we'll see how people will rate the album in the future.

tempest--
February 17th 2014



10967 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I'll have to give it a few more spins, but right now it just seems like same ol' modern thrash. I mean, all the musicians are good at what they do, and they do it well enough, but there's just absolutely nothing noticeable that caught my attention.
It's not bad like many other modern thrash bands, but it's not particularly noteworthy.

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
February 17th 2014



5626 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8 | Sound Off

If the album had less songs, the "same ol' same ol" notion would be further suppressed.

Also, as I write in the review, the production in the guitars could be heavier. I listened to their two EPs from YouTube, and the guitars there have a heavier, more raw sound.



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