Nima : For ten years now this American war machine has been terrorizing the metal underground with devastating death/thrash. The debut album, 'Sterilize And Exterminate', showed more death metal influences on both musical and vocal matters, but from their second album, 'Fog Of War' (2005) thrash started to take more and more the upper hand. With 'Code Of Violence' (2008) and especially 'Metal Of Honour' (2009) the battalion delivered two fantastic thrashers and I was rather curious about their new artillery, which was released at the end of last month.
The album opens strongly with 'Murder For Hire' and immediately the old-school thrash influences step forward. However, soon enough it becomes clear that the death metal influences have again increased on this record. For a part is this due to the production, which has falls out heavier and less sharp this time. The growling screams of the shouter Devastator is also less "thrashy” than his predecessor and strongly reminds of God Dethroned's Henri Sattler. This album in general reminds me of the Dutch death/thrashers, especially to their 'Bloody Blasphemy' era. But mind you, that does not mean that the thrash influences have now suddenly disappeared. Far from it, because the spirits of the likes of Slayer, Sodom and Destruction, and to some extent, Dark Angel are still evident.
In comparison with the previous releases the new songs also sound less chaotic and berserk and it sounds even as if the band is more focused and controlled. Again, don't get me wrong; because we are still dealing with aggressive thrash metal here and fast riffs and killing blastbeats are fully represented. The whole picture is just better more thought-through and somewhat more technical. Although the songs are well-composed, sound delightfully old-fashioned, are immediately catchy at first hear and the album rages on, still I have more trouble sitting the album out than I did with its predecessors. This has partly has to do with Devastator's vocals that, despite its rawness, aggression and conviction, starts to sound too monotonous after a while. The song certainly do contain enough variety, but in the end the album leaves a less wrought-up and devastating impression. I definitely miss the chaotic character and berserk enthusiasm of the previous three records. That however does not change the fact that 'Excessive Cruelty' is simply a respectable, old-fashioned death/thrasher that will surly satisfy the fans.