Thunderblast - Invaders from another world 4/5

Reviewed: 9-1-11





Tracklist:

1. Intro (We are not alone)
2. Core domain
3. Horror at outpost ten
4. The human torch
5. Target earth
6. Invaders from another world
7. When zombies rise
8. Screams at hunted hill
9. Mutate
10. War of the monsters
11. Lab from hell
12. Units of pain


Back in 2005, Colombian power metallers Thunderblast electrified me with their debut lightning strike, ‘Warzone’, which combined fast tempos, compelling melodies, sci-fi lyrics and a penchant for bands like Iron Savior and early-90s Rage. A short time later, I heard a couple of highly promising demo tracks that the band had penned as a follow-up for ‘Warzone’, but then there was silence. As the years passed, with nary a word from the Thunderblast camp, I assumed that it was another sad case of one-and-done for a talented band that deserved a better fate. Then, like a thunder clap in a clear blue sky, the news filtered out that Thunderblast had signed to the fantastic German true metal label, Pure Steel Records. This ‘Invaders from another world’ CD (which thankfully includes those old demo songs, among others) is the result of that collaboration.

The core personnel in the band are unchanged, as vocalist Felipe Machado Franco (best known in the metal world as a successful artist who has designed striking album sleeves for Rhapsody of Fire, Axel Rudi Pell, Savage Circus and many others) and riff-merchant extraordinaire German “Army of One” Guerra still lead the charge. Lyric-wise, Thunderblast remain firmly entrenched in the sci-fi genre, with songs about invading aliens, marauding monsters, and fearsome zombies. Sonically, though, ‘Invaders from another world’ sees Thunderblast moving in a slightly different direction than ‘Warzone’. Sure, the musical style remains anchored in heavy German power metal, but everything’s noticeably heavier, tougher and more abrasive here. Franco’s voice remains tuneful, but is overall rougher and harsher, and the songs themselves are substantially thrashier, with at least a few tracks (“Mutate” and “Where zombies rise”) owing at least as much to thrash as to power metal. Don’t get me wrong: The melodies and catchy choruses are still there (see “Core domain”, “Horror at outpost ten”, “Lab from hell” and “Units of pain”), but they’re a bit fewer and further between than on ‘Warzone’. The end product sounds something like ‘Black in mind’ Rage meets post-reunion Destruction. Another comparison might be to the underrated, sadly-defunct German act Sencirow’s final CD, ‘The nightmare within’.

Whether this minor sonic shift is a positive or a negative will depend on your perspective. Personally, I welcome the extra infusion of energy and aggression that this new amped-up edition of Thunderblast brings to the table. There are few quality releases these days occupying the heavy-duty-Euro-power-laced-with-thrash field, and ‘Invaders from another world’ fits that bill quite nicely. At the same time, though, I do miss the more overtly melodic side of Thunderblast, which is still presented here just in a somewhat muted format. Some reviewers have opined that this CD is too harsh and too one-dimensional in its pursuit of thrashy power metal. I can see how 56 minutes of this pummeling, in-your-face material at one sitting might seem excessive. But I do think there’s enough subtlety and nuance to break up the relentless onslaught, especially when it comes to Guerra’s excellent melodic touches in the guitarwork and Franco’s ability to write an addictive vocal hook. Even as they ratchet up the aggression, Thunderblast are still fully capable of showcasing the melody. The band may rely on these strengths less than they once did, but they’re still here, so don’t be fooled into thinking that ‘Invaders from another world’ is all savage ripping mindless blasting away.

At the end of the day, I am thrilled to see Thunderblast back in action, reinvigorated and firing on all cylinders. Some may be disappointed by the toned-down Iron Saviorisms and the ramped-up Destructionisms. That’s understandable, but ‘Invaders from another world’ really is the same Thunderblast I’ve always known and loved, just with a slight tweaking of the formula. If Sencirow’s ‘The nightmare within’ resonated with you, or if you liked Thunderblast’s ‘Warzone’ CD, then ‘Invaders from another world’ is highly recommended. For anyone else hankering for a hard-edged, tough-minded take on the German power/speed metal style, you owe it to yourself to track down this fine Pure Steel Records release. Support quality Colombian metal. Support Thunderblast. If you don’t, those ravaging zombies and sadistic experimenting aliens just might find you and make you pay.



KIT




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