The opening track on this album, entitled ‘Central Embodiment of Evil’ is an absolute ripper, and an excellent choice to set things rolling. If you’ve never heard these guys before, the track is a solid example of what to expect from them in terms of musical style, attitude and atmosphere. Kicking in with a crushing guitar riff that demonstrates some nice harmonies, the rhythm in the opening head makes me think of pre ‘Sacrament’ Lamb of God, likely down to Bull-Riff Stampede’s particular choice of guitar tones and accented string-bends, which are rife throughout.
Following this is a skilfully executed breakdown, making way for a powerful and in your face first verse. Consisting of speedy double-bass kicks – along with some relentless overlapping-vocals – it left me with feelings of Devil Driver crossed with (elements of) Sikth. This track instantly grabbed me by the balls – to the extent I found myself saying ‘Impressive’ aloud and in a Darth Vader voice. Stonker of a tune!
By contrast, the second track – ‘Thrashing Machine’ – has a rather different vibe, and (as the name implies) is pure Thrash-Metal. The sound of the track is distinctly old-skool in comparison to the first. All bands have songs that reveal their influences and for ‘BRS’ this seems to be one of those. In listening I got direct links to older, legendary Metal bands – specifically Slayer and Pantera – which is a good thing by the standards of most Metal-heads! This is an official video of the band performing ‘Thrashing Machine’ in rehearsal:
Moving down through the album you have stand-out tracks like ‘Advance and Conquer’, which instead goes for a much more epic sound – achieved through a focus on melody, harmony, and a well-crafted early build up. This song creates the feeling of an audio landscape through choice of notes and cadences, and the attention to detail gives the impression that there is definitely a message lying behind the music. From this point the tunes start to vary increasingly in style, which I think is great. In some instances, albums that offer such a broad range can leave individual tracks feeling quite alien and sometimes out of place. But you won’t find that here.
You can tell the band have put a lot of thought in to the track order and have arranged the position of one song to compliment its transition into another. ‘No Regrets’ is an example of such craftsmanship. Bringing a completely different groove and slower feel compared to previous tracks, along with one liquid-smooth guitar solo towards the end, it glides effortlessly in to the next song ‘Ten’.
‘Ten’ then begins with a catchy, broken groove, later going in to more Slayer-type double bass runs and Thrash. ‘Pit March’ then follows, introducing the listener to a flail of brutal blast-beats that are maintained skilfully and satisfyingly right through to the song’s end. Perhaps the most extreme example of such beautifully crafted variation on this album though, is that of ‘Solace’ – the purely acoustic, final track. I immediately thought back to ‘Implements of Destruction’ from ‘The Impossibility of Reason’ album by Chimaira, and inevitably, Opeth. The difference being that ‘Solace’ never makes the transition into the realms of distortion, which (given the nature of tracks that came before it) works really, really well.
What I’m getting at here, is these guys have evidently worked hard on an album that offers a broad and colourful palette of Thrash (based) Metal – and it’s a wonderfully refreshing thing to see within an arena that would very much like to stay black. Bull-Riff Stampede have so much potential that I would like to see them be brave and stray away from the safety that comes with playing the much imitated and popular traditions of Thrash, and to instead spend time nurturing their own product even further. I say this, because I love what they have, and I could imagine these guys exploding into something unimagined and new – something big – in the very near future.
Bull-Riff Stampede currently have a wealth of shows lined up, right the way through until August this year. Included in those dates are some prestigious festival performances – such as ‘Hammerfest’ on the 16th March (Jaeger Stage) with the likes of ‘Killing Joke’, ‘Hatebreed’, and ‘Napalm Death’. The month of May will see them supporting ‘Beholder’ on ‘The Chaos Coalition Tour, followed by the ‘SOS Festival’ in July. Perhaps most notably you can catch them at the massive ‘Wacken Open Air Festival’ in August… Excellent news!