"Chernobyl Diaries" pushed the limits of good taste as a so-so horror film yet no one cried foul, per se, since the premise was so ludicrous audiences just rolled with it at face-value. So too will speed junkies look past the equally ludicrous title "Chernobyl Survivor" by Quebecois tech thrashers, BLINDED BY FAITH.
Bird-in-hand prevails as BLINDED BY FAITH runs with the nuke mutant theme from its evident spur on "Chernobyl Survivor". To their credit, the emphasis is more on decking their gratuitously fast tracks with heaps of crashing melodies, giving their ornamental brand of thrash a sense of bravado and theatricality that has little to do with horror.
Vocalist Tommy Demers certainly has enough low and high ralphing tones to create a horrific nuance to "Chernobyl Survivor". His guttural pukes in the middle of the somewhat slower "Dead End Stranger" and "Bitter Aftertaste" prick nervy death twitches that will send shivers. Mostly, Demers shrieks and flails his esophagus with expert elevation and waning amidst the torrential thrash throughout the eleven tracks of the album. Still, the epochal hustle of the album is perhaps more habitable within a low-budget battle flick.
Officially hanging around the metal scene since 1996, whenever BLINDED BY FAITH steps up to the box, they swing for the fence. The decorative synths by Demers and Danny Emond (listed on the liner notes as a guest, though he's been connected to the band a long time) plus other contributions from Jean-Francois Racine and David Habon underscore the stamping gusts of the album. Julien Marcotte has to be one restless mother since he's called upon to issue whirlwind after whirlwind of triplicates and hurricane force velocity. Pascal Cote and Michael Beaudoin mesh together in perfect synchronicity to the point they're nearly inhuman. Only when the songs toss in a breakdown or two ("Pace of the Race" being one example) do the guitars become isolated and measureable. Otherwise, Cote and Beaudoin shred and solo in tandem, possessed by their metallic danse macabre. Session bassist Antoine Baril is virtually buried by all of the tsunami-like elements overtop you have to listen hard for him, albeit he shines on "Shrivelled Wings".
If there's any real itch to "Chernobyl Survivor", it's in the fact that many of the songs are structured in repetitive fashion you almost forget to key in on the dynamic proto jam, "Alone" and the subsequent power metal romp, "Bitter Aftertaste". The front-and-center, Jens Johansson-esque keyboard solo of "Alone" diverts from the back-and-forth march-thrash schisms that conclude with a decorative speed section. The Baroque-spiced keys then flail throughout "Bitter Aftertaste", which likewise accelerates and decelerates in tempo.
For the most part, though, "Chernobyl Survivor" pounds with calculating aggression and grandiosity on the first three numbers and later, "Pornscars" and "Prophets of Nothing". BLINDED BY FAITH is so skilled it's unfathomable their catalog's so slim, not including their 2007 live album "Imperial Collapse: Live in Quebec City". Nonetheless, "Chernobyl Survivor" musically surpasses its borderline tasteless geek factor in impressive fashion, well backing up BLINDED BY FAITH's veteran status.