The Troops Of Doom – The Absence Of Light (EP Review)

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The darkness has prevailed!

For a while there has been a renewed interest in where death metal was during its original heyday in the late 80s and early 90s, birthing what some have come to call the New Wave Of Old School Death Metal. But while some younger outfits such as Skeletal Remains, Gruesome and Morfin have been heavily focused on bringing about a revival of death metal in its early yet full codified format, there has been an equally prominent resurgence of activity via a number of key players involved in the sub-genre embryonic state in the mid-80s, with the most noteworthy example being the triumphant return of Jeff Becerra and Possessed in 2019, fielding one of the finest death/thrash offerings since the style was initially pioneered. Not long after, one of the masterminds behind Sepultura’s earliest incarnation, namely original guitarist Jairo “Tormentor” Guedz, brought about a similar resurrection of sorts with a new project dedicated to the days of “Bestial Devastation” and “Morbid Visions” dubbed The Troops Of Doom.

Following a highly impressive, albeit short debut EP “The Rise Of Hersey” just last year, this newly minted purveyor of things old school has wasted no time in repeating the same winning formula in the similarly succinct ode to perpetual darkness dubbed “The Absence Of Light.” Though essentially a retrospective on the unique blend of chaotic elements that first shocked the masses in the heyday of moral panics and televangelism, this monster of an EP takes care to remind its audience that it is very much a creature of the present as well, as a single sampling of the bombast, theatrical symphonic prelude and title track “The Absence Of Light” leaves little doubt of its current character. Combined with a dank and dissonant blend of blurred tremolo riffs, crushing thrash grooves, a vintage mid-ranged throaty shout out of vocalist Alex Kafer that’s only slightly more vile than Tom Araya’s handiwork on “Hell Awaits,” and a creepy atmospheric production, this is the sort of fine vintage that any old school trustee will easily recognize.

The duo of original compositions that constitutes the body of this head first dive into metallic oblivion prove to be grand feats individually, while also functioning as chapters of a greater whole in how the transition from one part to the next. The designation of act numbers to each is no mere formality, as the haunting acoustic interlude that acts as a segue between the two has a highly conceptual character that somewhat resembles the ones employed by Iced Earth on “Night Of The Stormrider.” “The Devil’s Tail” proves the strongest of the lot from a standpoint of sheer aggression, as it relentlessly pummels the airwaves with a constant barrage of lightning fast, hyper-thrashing mayhem that could stand toe to toe with the most intense moments on “Reign In Blood” and “Seven Churches.” By contrast, “The Monarch” has more of a measured, thrashing character that aligns it a bit closer to the sort of controlled darkness more readily associated with some of the later 80s extreme thrash entries such as “South Of Heaven,” though with a dank atmosphere and dirty vocal guest slot out of Jeff Becerra himself that gets pretty close to what Chuck Schuldiner brought to “Leprosy.”

Though this is among the smaller doses of auditory carnage to come about of late, it comes with some bonus material that proves about as formidable as the main attraction. The cover of Sepultura’s “Antichrist”, one of the more extreme examples of early death/thrash to be trotted out in 1985 by said band back when Tormentor was still in their ranks, and given a nice 2020s production makeover that unearths the true level of might that it carried hidden behind a rough and occasionally out of tune original recording. Likewise, the demo versions of “The Devil’s Tail” and “The Monarch” present a rendition of these towering colossus that is closer to the rough, unrefined character that they would likely have presented in had they been recorded back in the old days. It’s the total package for any death metal or thrash metal enthusiast who was either raised on the original stuff or has a keen interest in discovering where death metal was during its infancy.

Released By: Blood Blast / Voice Music / Metalized Records/ Hellven Records/ Repulsive Echo Records
Release Date: August 8th, 2021
Genre: Thrash / Speed Metal

Musicians:

  • Jairo “Tormentor” Guedz / Guitar
  • Alex Kafer / Bass, vocals
  • Marcelo Vasco / Guitar
  • Alexandre Oliveira / Drums

“The Absence Of Light” EP Track Listing:

1. Introduction – The Absence Of Light
2. Act I – The Devil’s Tail
3. Act II – The Monarch feat. Jeff Becerra (Possessed)
4. Antichrist (Sepultura)
5. The Devil’s Tail (Demo Version)
6. The Monarch (Demo Version)

Order your format of choice HERE.

8.6 Excellent

Continuing to resurrect the decrepit spirit of death/thrash primitivism, The Troops Of Doom soldier on with yet another short but solid rendition of where the concept of extreme metal was circa 1985, but with the studio benefits of the 2020s.

  • Songwriting 8.5
  • Musicianship 9
  • Originality 8.5
  • Production 8.5
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