Guillotine - Blood money 4/5
1. Insane oppression
6. Skeleton city
8. Dying world
9. Welcome to dying (Death, destruction & pain)
11. Our darkest day
12. Blood money
Whether it has been done as penance for the latest Nocturnal Rites CD ('The 8th sin'), an attempt at grasping onto a thrash revival that has suddenly moved out of the clubs and onto the shelves, or if it's all just a big coincidence, Nils Eriksson and Fredrik Mannberg probably caught everyone by surprise with their decision to haul Guillotine out of a self-inflicted 10-year state of rigor mortis.
After the shockingly bad 'The 8th sin' knocked a huge dent in the credibility of Nocturnal Rites last year with its feeble modern hard rock leanings, a brutal, German-style thrash CD was probably the last thing anyone was expecting from the band's 2 founding members.
What is then even more of a surprise is just how pure a CD 'Blood money' actually is – more or less a straight continuation of the style on their 1997 debut 'Under the guillotine', it is free from either any modern trappings or the over-familiar Bay Area worship many of the younger bands in this style are playing, and offers a straight down the middle 40-minute feast of total aggression.
Mannberg, from the rasping scream that opens the CD to its conclusion, stamps his authority all over proceedings, and no one would be able to guess it has been a decade since he last expelled his ferocious vocals onto record (Nocturnal Rites started as a death metal band, remember). Along with new 2nd guitarist Daniel Sundbom (joined behind the kit by his Persuader bandmate Efraim Juntunen) Mannberg also turns in some impressive solos – nothing out of this world, but memorable and in exactly the right frantic style for this kind of music - and the duo used to spending their time playing 2nd fiddle to the Norberg brothers can be proud of their efforts.
With 11 full songs crammed into the short running time (there is only the slightest pause for breath on the short instrumental, "Madness"), 'Blood money' leaves little room to subtlety, with several short and punchy riffs squeezed into each of the 3 to 4 minute songs. As result there is no fat that could be trimmed from anywhere on the CD, a perfect example of a taut and streamlined thrash collection with no waffling excesses. Picking out highlights is as result quite a challenge, but the brilliant "Die/Live" deserves special recommendation for its manic chorus and spectacular midsection.
On a side note, the back-to-basics approach of Guillotine is not only satisfying in its own right, but also gives hope for the future of Nocturnal Rites. Hopefully Eriksson and Mannberg's decision to take a step back from their main band and delve into their musical past will mean that when they go back to their days jobs they take some of this attitude with them and steady the ship after last year's catastrophe – at the very least it has been confirmed that they still actually remember what a guitar riff sounds like. The alternative, of course, is that they will treat Nocturnal Rites as the cash cow and Guillotine as the creative outlet, but these musings are academic when it comes to discussing this CD.
Whatever the motivations behind it may have been, 'Blood money' is a comeback of dramatic proportions from Guillotine. Standing out amongst the crowd of the thrash renaissance is becoming an ever trickier task, but these comparative veterans have made it look easy, and are due all the credit in the world for that.
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