Pollution - Modern warfare 3.5/5
1. Gates of madness
2. Black river
3. Modern warfare
4. Devil's henchman
5. Massive overload
6. Absolute pollution
7. Ruined planet
8. Manic depression
9. Elimination by radiation
11. Open the void
They say a picture is worth a thousand words - and just the quickest of peaks at the cover artwork for Pollution’s full-length debut CD should tell you all you need to know about what they sound like. Gasmask wearing soldiers and vicious German thrash go together like fish and chips, and while Pollution are from a few hundred miles down the road in Serbia it’s clear where they draw the biggest portion of their influences from.
Unlike their countrymen Toxic Trace, whose debut I reviewed last month, they come across less like an on-the-nose disciple of a particular band and more like connoisseurs of the general Teutonic vibe. While Toxic Trace’s love of all things Kreator is brazenly apparent, Pollution manage to sound both imminently familiar and at the same time a little hard to pin down.
Vocalist Branko Zorić must have listened to a lot of Destruction records over the years, admittedly, as while he isn’t quite a dead ringer for Schmier, his ragged, snotty voice is definitely cut from the same cloth. But while the similarity in frontman is there, musically the comparison would be pretty superficial as the Serbs pack a lot less into their songs, keeping things nice and simple with none of their songs being particularly complicated.
Not to say that’s a bad thing though - a lot of modern thrash (from both new bands and re-established veterans) ends up being overwrought and stretched out, with overly-long songs and CDs missing much of the punch that gave the style its vital spark in the first place. Pollution neatly avert this with 10 songs (and a brief intro) that total less than 40 minutes. The closing track “Open the void” is the black sheep, more expansive and melodic than the rest and the only one by some distance to exceed the 5-minute mark - it works nicely as a closer that shows a different side of the band, but the meat of the CD is made of short, savage thrash tunes that make their mark in concise fashion.
Pollution have the ability to grab a couple of neat riffs and tie them together to make effectively aggressive thrashers that get to the point with little messing about. There isn’t a lot to discover about ‘Modern warfare’ that you won’t pick up on the first listen – the opposite of a “grower”, the CD instead wins you over straight away with its uncomplicated arrangements and gritty determination. The stripped-down production style is in line with this less-is-more attitude too – the guitars have a razor-sharp tone and everything is clear and audible, allowing you to hear every instrument loud and clear without the overly crunchy, muddled sound that afflicts a lot of the thrash released on bigger labels these days.
It isn’t the fastest or most technical thrash you’ll ever hear, and it may lack the depth to encourage a great deal of repeat listens, but ‘Modern warfare’ is a nice antacid to some of the more sterile CDs being released in the style at the moment. A back-to-basics approach is often the wake up call you need to remind you why you fell in love with a style of music in the first place, and it’s obvious that Pollution love listening to old-school thrash metal as much as they love playing it.
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