Review Summary: Untapped potential
Black Fast is an American tech-thrash band, hailing from St. Louis, Missouri, formed in 2010, having already put out a demo and debut album Starving out the Light, before releasing Terms of Surrender in 2015. Opening with The Keep, the band immediately lays down their approach to the record; a stripped-down, modern sounding tech-thrash approach, with the most distinctive element to the record being the harsh screams, courtesy of Aaron Akin, more reminiscent of hardcore vocals than anything typically thrash. In a genre oversaturated with bands trying to either reinvent thrash metal or revive the genre’s golden years, a band finding their own sound in an overcrowded genre is a breath of fresh air. However, Black Fast falls into many of the same pitfalls that hold back their peers.
As expected, the guitarwork is very competent, launching into blisteringly fast riffs every other second. The lyrics, while nothing revolutionary, serve their purpose and blend well with the vocal style Aaron employs. However, both rhythm and bass sections are lacking, for different reasons. The bass is barely audible in the mix, and while the drums are almost always in focus, they never take their chance to hook the listener, with drummer Ross Burnett relegating himself to a supporting position, likely not for lack of skill, but rather of engaging songwriting.
The consistency on this album is top-notch, but also one of its weaknesses. While none of the tracks could be classified as bad from a technical point of view, the limited style employed on the album does little to keep the listeners attention, and tracks tend to start blending together. The record has a distinct lack of album-crafting, with few memorable highlights, too little downtime and no organic peaks.
Black Fast has however clearly improved from their debut album. Whereas Starving out the Light too often lost itself trying to paste Slayer-esque riffs together, the songwriting on Terms of Surrender has improved significantly, examples being the greater focus on atmosphere and outstanding vocal hooks showcased on tracks like The Fall and I Conspire.
All in all, Terms of Surrender is quick to hook the listener, but upon repeated listens the album slowly starts showing its flaws. Black Fast is a progressing band with a promising future, and if they manage to continue this growth they might just be part of a technical thrash metal renaissance.