Saturday, February 18, 2017

Agresiva - Eternal Foe (Reissued 2016)

Originally released back in 2012, this new version of the Spanish thrashers' debut recording contains two extra tracks in addition to the Spanish language version of “Hell Town.” These are “The End Of The Game” and “Sent To War” respectively. Judging the record as a whole, I feel that the three reviewers on Metal Archives got it right, and it currently stands at a 71% even though I'd place it just a few points higher. The early (but should we now say current?) Belladonna era of Anthrax seems to be a major influence on the piece, with fontispiece Samuel being a near emulation of the classic vocal style. You can tell that these blasted the living hell out of Among The Living when you pop in Eternal Foe and that's just fine. They know what kind of band that they want to be, and frankly there's enough firepower and differentiation in riff-structures to make for something of a pleasant listen. As of this review, I'm on my third play of it tonight as I'm trying to really hammer down what I think the issues are.

As far as the musicianship is concerned, I feel that this very much resembles Anthrax at their mightiest, and it may even offer a bit more bite than the records that influenced it. There are also some sections that differ from the thrash formula and tinge maybe a little on prog. The drumming offered up by Chus Maestro is quite proficient and the flurry of varied riffs that we get from guitarists Miguel Coello and Eduardo Chamón more than make up for the slighty lackluster vocal approach that Samuel offers in some areas, especially when wonderful solos come into the mix. The band utilize a slew of soundclips within the performance, but never directly in the songs, which is a major plus for me. All I want to hear in thrash is the guitars, drums, bass and vocals and that's pretty much it. This record gives me exactly that, along with some real energy – the kind that Metallica haven't offered in quite a while. But you can't even really compare a band like this to Metallica, because they borrow so much from early Anthrax and don't even seem to have so much as a bone in their body that resembles Metallica. With an atmosphere that feels warm, yet clean – we get something that is not much offered within the thrash metal spectrum, and that is a bit refreshing. It's a bit less fierce than the two other thrash releases I've covered this week, being Mutilator and The Mist respectively; but it is still a rather rough and tumble experience that fans of the genre need to check out, especially if they miss old-school Anthrax. Daniel Villaseñor's hefty bass is certainly well pronounced and provides a firey overtone to the production here, but there is just enough space within the recording that I can actually make out nearly every melodic lead and drum tap. This is fantastic, because songs like “Pale Horse”, “Hell Town” and the especially progessive title track are only made the better because of this production decision. This record could have been produced with a focus on raw thrash, but it would have sounded like crap and at the same time, would have harmed the band a great deal. Thankfully, that was not the case here.

Again, we don't get many independent thrash albums where the band can breathe and many sound like they're in some kind of box or garage plugging out inaudible tunes with amps that have been turned up far too loud for their own good. I have no idea who mastered this one, but they did a hell of a job with it and they deserve about fifteen medals. I don't know what kind of medals, probably those chocolate medals from the Mario books. In any case, what we have here is something quite profound and promising in the house that thrash built, and I hope that the band's sophomore release The Crime Of Our Time (2014) came out just as good as this one did. If not, throw it to this guy and let him master it as well. I don't care how much money it takes, this is a real bang-up production job and it shows that these guys have some real power in the scene. If they were able to deliver just as good, or even better of a performance with the second one, then I'd be more than willing to hear it.

These guys were independent for a while, but Minotauro Records picked them up and created this version of it, so if you liked the independent release, you owe it to yourself to grab this version of the disc. It contains some nice cover artwork as well, and looks like a truly professional product. There's an undead shogun on the front of it and that works for me! Very cool stuff, guys.

(12 Tracks, 55:00)


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