Sunday, April 19, 2009

Review: Annexed Asylum - Combustion (2009)

Annexed Asylum [ Website | MySpace | Facebook ]

There are a number of Heavy Metal critics who look upon the current incarnation of the Thrash revival as little more than a fleeting trend that will ultimately do nothing to advance the genre as a whole. Personally, I feel that Heavy Metal is - like many genres - cyclic in nature. What was new becomes passé, only to become new again through contemporary interpretation. Whether an album establishes a new subgenre or adheres to a tried-and-true formula is irrelevant, as long as said album kicks ass. Simple as that. Having thrown up the horns to many an '80s Thrash album, I applaud the latest wave of bands who build their sound around a core influenced by the likes of Anthrax, Slayer, and Testament. Birmingham, Alabama's Annexed Asylum is one of those bands, proving with their debut EP Combustion that they're ready to be counted among the new Thrash Metal legions.

As I'm sure you've guessed by this point, Annexed Asylum's sound is rooted in old-school Thrash. Each of the six songs on the EP overflows with meaty riffs, wild solos, and spastic beats - a treat for any genre fan. Combustion isn't merely a tribute album, however. One reason the album stands on its own is frontman Andrew's versatile voice. Throughout the disc he alters his delivery style, from throaty Death Metal growls to straightforward Thrashy shouts to clean singing that reminds me a bit of Layne Staley. "Censor Controlled" features Andrew belting out some raspy, almost Black Metal-ish snarls to go along with Mark's virtual wall of cymbal smashing as Johnny and Tim lay down some of the most sinister riffs on the EP. The title track, with its cornucopia of heavy riffing and the most solid solo of the album, ranks as my favorite track. That being said, the Flea-inspired bass intro on "Six Years in Hell" makes the closing track a highlight as well.

Even though just six songs deep, Combustion contains enough variety to please both old-school purists and modern Thrash advocates. Annexed Asylum has managed to successfully blend traditional influences with contemporary elements in a way that does justice to both schools of thought, and is a band that anyone with an affinity for Thrash should pay attention to.

Track Listing
1 Zealots 3:15
2 World of Decay 3:33
3 Censor Controlled 3:46
4 Morbid Torture 3:47
5 Combustion 5:05
6 Six Years in Hell 4:19
Total Runtime 23:45

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