Thrash, feel the power from inside/Intense metal will blow your mind/The way you look, we don’t care/As long as the feeling burns in your soul/Your blood circulation is running mad • our speed kills!
Man, now that’s poetry • that is, if you consider making Razor blush with envy “poetry,” which I certainly do. And although the above lines are hardly representative of the more sophisticated lyrical terrain Thanatos tread and are actually from the very first song they ever wrote (“Speed Kills,” 1983), that fiery spirit refreshingly permeates the seamless collision of old/new death metal that is Angelic Encounters. Only their third album in a decade (real prolific, guys), Angelic Encounters confirms Thanatos’ veteran status while demonstrating their modern-minded approach (better be • their last album, Realm Of Ecstasy, came out in ’92!). So, take it how you will, but the Dutch masters’ latest one loosely (note: loosely) sounds like an overview of ideas from Death’s first three albums spliced with the more simplified (but still massively mathy) ones from their next three, with a cockeyed gaze on both the Stockholm and Gothenburg camps from ’92 and ’95, respectively, and a well-rounded production to make you say, “this record is from the present day”; hey, they even cover Massacre’s “Corpse Grinder,” so there’s yet another past-life parallel. Melodic and dynamic, many moods, many tempos, and conspicuously devoid of vomit vox, triggered blasts, gothic moans, “atmospheric” keyboards, or any other hackneyed metallic touchstones circa 2001, Angelic Encounters lock-welds the past and present with lucid, genuine panache free of retro-retread: Surprisingly, precious few records sound quite like this however familiar the formulas being mixed may be, and that can only work in Thanatos’ favor if they ever decide to record another album many years (eight?) down the line. Speed kills, dude.
Hammerheart, PO Box 277, 6300 AG Valkenburg, The Netherlands, http://www.hammerheart.com