I swear, the death metal warriors in Latin America and Eastern Europe almost always get it right. This time the album that knocks the earth off its axis is "Exacerbated Gnostic Manifestation" by Chile's THORNAFIRE. It is yet another example of Ibex Moon head honcho and INCANTATION main man John McEntee's ear for true, old school based, and natural-sounding death metal that never trades groove or feeling for technical excess.
And by getting "it" right, I mean that THORNAFIRE wastes nary a second on "Exacerbated Gnostic Manifestation" burning through 46 minutes of more groove-filled pummel, killer riffs, and occult/anti-Christian atmosphere than even the truest believers could handle without bowing down in obeisance to the Chilean death metal gods. The combination of Juan Pablo Donoso's batter and clatter drumming, Victor Mac-Namara's giant array of monster riffs, and bassist Alexis Munoz's David-Vincent-meets-Tom-G-Warrior vocals is nothing short of explosive. From "Curse of the Supreme" to the Spanish-sung "Deflagracion", the album sucks you in from the start with a primal delivery that is somewhat reminiscent of mid-period MORBID ANGEL (sans the Azagthoth solo insanity), mixed with a healthy dose of the indefinable cosmic aura mastered by THE CHASM. Check out the airy guitar parts on "From Punishment to Advent" for a great example of the latter; it'll send shivers down your spine.
Not to belabor the point, but it is worthwhile re-emphasizing the beastly vocals of Munoz. When he belts out "The reign of terror!" on "Clergy's Betray", it is not a mere vocal part; it is a goddamn roar that could bring down the heavens! Along with crushing riff after crushing riff, and drum fusillades that could destroy the most fortified bunker, Munoz and his co-conspirators play with the kind of ability that has got to be inborn because you sure as hell couldn't fake it.
Shit no, THORNAFIRE aren't out to create a new genre of death metal; they just deliver with more passion and conviction than the average death metal band paying tribute to the school of old. The earthy mix, the bone-breaking rhythms, and a truck load of memorable vocal lines, licks, and arrangement breaks make "Exacerbated Gnostic Manifestation" an album built for those tired of death metal bands that never did and never will understand what "feeling" is all about it. Crank this one loud and watch the night snuff out the sun.