Northern European thrash served up extra nasty.
Thrash metal can work a few different ways, but it is generally stipulated that subtlety is its antithesis, and there is definitely something to be said for a back to basics take on the style, which has typically been the preferred approach of the bands partaking in its revival since the turn of the millennium. It’s an open question as to which scene originally set the bar the highest in the 1980s in terms of sheer aggression, but there was something particularly dark and sinister about the place that the German scene brought to the table during the middle of said decade that has since spawned throngs of emulators from both sides of the Atlantic and beyond. Among the more concise disciples of this brand of mad thrashing mayhem to rage forth from the tail-end of the 2000s is a quartet from Helsinki dubbed Ceaseless Torment, and while the name itself implies a sinister brand of thrash metal in line with the classic exploits of the Teutonic Trio, their 3rd and latest LP installment “Victory Or Death” takes things to their logical conclusion.
The mold of no compromising, pedal to the metal brand of sonic chaos on display here bears a strong resemblance to the ferocity witnessed during the Frank Blackfire era of Sodom during the late 80s, touched up with a beastly guitar tone that rivals the compressed force typical to 2010s revivalist icons Power Trip. Guitarist/vocalist and co-founder Sebastian Fredriksson brings a raw and sepulchral raving persona to the fore that bears a strong resemblance to Thomas “Angelripper” Such, while the blurring tremolo riffs and crunchy grooves from his rhythm input places well against the frenetic lead work of long time shredder Kim Lappalainen, whose solos likewise tread fairly close to the concise bursts that Blackfire brought to “Persecution Mania” and “Agent Orange.” Combined with the tight and heavy-ended rhythm section performance put forth by bassist Mikko Karppelin and drummer Tommi Makkonen–Viherialehto, the finished structure that emerges leans into the heyday of German thrash pretty hard while also keeping things simple and slightly in line with American crossover.
Beating around the bush is not in this album’s vocabulary, it’s the sort of freight-train approach to the thrash formula that starts off at full speed and takes extremely few occasions to slow down for a cargo drop. The opening crusher “Final Sacrifice” underscores this zero to sixty in seconds flat approach to things masterfully, riding off an explosive series of beats at neck-destroying rapidity, clocking in at just under three minutes while still seeing Lappalainen managing two rip out two impressive solo sections. Its immediate successor “Beyond The Boundaries Of Sanity” and the mad speeder “Killing Commands” may as well round out a trilogy with the aforementioned opener, as they lay down the relentless fury in the same basic fashion and clock in at almost identical time lengths. Later entries such as “Sons Of Sodom” (a title that could describe the band) and “Funeral Pyre” linger a bit longer and have a few more moving parts, but generally mirror that same raging nods to classic Sodom bangers like “Nuclear Winter” and “Enchanted Land” approach that typifies this band’s already noted shorter numbers.
Naturally there is some level of variation at play on this album that keeps it from being a one-dimensional slaughter fest, though nothing on here makes even a fleeting attempt at being progressive or otherwise goes off the classic 80s script. The just over 5 minute blaster “All Be Dead” has what amounts to a 90 second jam session that showcases Tommi’s drumming capabilities and Lappalainen’s technique at the six-string before going into outright kill mode, and even after the lyrical carnage commences the flavor of things is a tad bit more measured, hitting an apex during a brilliant dueling solo display with Fredriksson getting a few solid licks into the mix. But the entry that truly sets itself apart from the pack is the epic closer “Slaves Of Hell”, which takes a few nods from Slayer’s “Seasons In The Abyss” and arises from a dark and doom-drenched intro with Mikko’s bass work getting some time in the sun to bring some Kilmister-styled glassy raunchiness into the mix. Ultimately it finds itself veering back into chaotic territory in line with the rest of the album, but it stands tall above the fray by being an even more potent dose of adrenaline despite the continual similarity in ideas being employed.
For a little over a decade there have been various online outlets insisting that the revival that was named the New Wave of Old School Thrash Metal was on its way out, yet every year there is no shortage of up and comers looking to draw another portfolio of bangers from the well of ideas that was dug during the sub-genre’s conception roughly four decades ago. Though Ceaseless Torment isn’t really a brand player on the current stage, the added visibility that is sure to come given their recent move from the obscure and small time Finnish BWK Records to the comparatively larger Italian label WormHoleDeath will undoubtedly see them rise to greater prominence, and “Victory Or Death” is the sort of album that is up to the task of leaving a solid first impression, right in the newcomer’s skull. Lead guitarist Kim Lappalainen has since departed the fold to join the ranks of Impaled Nazarene, but it’s a safe bet that this isn’t the final word in this outfit’s tenure. They may not be reinventing the wheel here, but between their solid songwriting and unfailing zeal for the art, it’s the sort of tried and true goodness that any thrash fan can blast out at maximum volume.
Order the “Victory Or Death“ album HERE,
Released By: WormHoleDeath Records
Release Date: September 30th, 2022
Genre: Thrash Metal
- Sebastian Fredriksson / Guitar & Vocals
- Kim Lappalainen / Guitar
- Mikko Karppelin / Bass
- Tommi Makkonen-Viheriälehto / Drums
“Victory Or Death” Track-listing:
- Final Sacrifice 02:48
- Beyond the Boundaries of Sanity 03:14
- All Be Dead 05:11
- Killing Commands 02:38
- Funeral Pyre 04:13
- Only Victory or Death 04:20
- Sons of Sodom 03:49
- Obsession Possession 03:53
- Slaves of Hell 06:36
Helsinki-based quartet and thrash revivalist powerhouse Ceaseless Torment live up to their name with a potent blend of Teutonic-inspired auditory violence and a crossover sense of conciseness on their 3rd studio offering