Thursday, September 8, 2016

Aggravator - Sterile Existence (2016)

Note: The following release is cassette only as of this review.

This is the second full-length from Texas thrashers, Aggravator and it's far from aggravating. But I'm sure these guys have heard that one before. In any case, this is the kind of thrash I like. You can hear the Slayer, Sodom, Metallica, Destruction and company influence on the record, but Aggravator are the kind of band that come forth with more force than acts like Slayer have in years (not Sodom though, they killed it this year!) especially with the blood-curdling rasp offered up by frontman Derek Jones. I love it when metal sounds evil, and I think his Jeff Walker approach to the genre comes off completely ravenous. But it's not all about Jones, as the other three dudes in the band show that they can play thrash with the very best of them.

Let me tell you why I would prefer a band like this to something like Death Angel, for instance. First of all, the last Death Angel record I heard just sounded like the same couple of riffs repeated over and over with no real rhyme or reason. There wasn't anything about the record that really appealed to me and I felt that listening to it was a waste of time compared to the new Sodom or something like this. Aggravator are the kind of act that I'm not even sure if I should call thrash or death/thrash, with influences that sometimes seem to veer in mid-era Death territory. They definitely mainly play thrash, but they play thrash with enough attention to detail that you're not completely bored.

To thrash purists, there's probably not too much going on here that they haven't heard and I'll meet them on that end. Yet you have to take notice of some of the little interjections that will appear on a cut like “High Impact Homicides” for example. I always preferred thrash acts like DAM and Vektor who tried to do something a bit more with the genre, rather than rehashing what has already been done on each additional output, which is what Aggravator are trying to attempt here. I never said it was perfect, but it's better. I'd much prefer them over an act like Warbeast, but wouldn't shy away from seeing both Texan based acts in a show together.

If you like to hear the sound of angry guitars and dueling solo efforts (Jesse Lopez delivers well in that area) as well as as barrage of drums (Martin Cortes) and classic bass nodes (Tristan Hernandez) then you've certainly come to the right place. It won't quite reinvent the wheel, but it certainly makes a mark among several of the thrash acts I've heard this year.

(9 Tracks, 33:00)


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