THANATOS
"Justified Genocide"

(Deity Down)

01. They Feed on Fear
02. Destruction.Chaos.Creation
03. The Devil's Triangle
04. March of the Infidels
05. Justified Genocide
06. The Netherworld
07. Dawn of Eternity
08. Apostles of Damnation
09. Upwards Spiritual Evolution
10. And Jesus Wept
11. The Burning of Sodom

RATING: 8/10

Anyone who's still raging over the HAIL OF BULLETS record (and you should be) needs to know that two of those guys are from this legendary Dutch band. THANATOS never seemed able to catch a break when they first came out, and even their reformation has been hampered by label closings and delays. Finally, four years after they halted production on "Justified Genocide" due to the shuttering of previous label Black Lotus, the album sees the light of day -- and it's another proud milestone in the canon of Dutch heavy metal.

Blistering thrash is the order of the day with THANATOS, plenty of effortless blast beats and furious d-beat propulsion. It's all delivered with a thick, dense, ripping production and a venomous dose of death metal atmosphere, for a sound that comes off much more old-school than the typical melodic Euro-thrash of modern days. The vocals are a ragged, frenzied bark and the riffs flail and fly with breakneck speed — and lest you think melody can't exist in such a brutal atmosphere, dig the soaring midsection of "They Feed on Fear" for an oasis amid the sonic carnage, or the doomy, ASPHYX-like soloing that crops up in several places.

Nothing THANATOS is doing here is particularly innovative, of course, but their strength lies in being able to cram a lot of dynamics into their songwriting without losing their rough-hewn edge or getting too flighty for their own good. The songs on "Justified Genocide" aren't paint-by-numbers verse-chorus death metal raveups, and there are plenty of brooding slow parts and unique guitar work to offset the faster bits. Even a number as simple as the stomping, midtempo "The Devil's Triangle" gets the blood boiling by sheer force of execution and slow build alone, while "The Netherworld" drops a perfect little doom midsection into an otherwise raging inferno of a song, rendering the fast bits that much more lethal.

Twenty-five years after their formation, THANATOS are more brutal than ever, and their workingman's death/thrash is executed with equal parts precision and rabid enthusiasm. "Justified Genocide" is a satisfying and enjoyable trip down a dark path, and an effort that deserves more attention. P.S. Watch for the MASSACRE and DARK ANGEL covers as bonus tracks at the end — well done!

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