The word "smoking" gets thrown around so much with regard to an album's riffs, but damn if it doesn't apply in a big way on YEAR OF DESOLATION's self-titled debut for Prosthetic. (The band's first release, "Your Blood My Vendetta" was released in 2004 on Corrosive Recordings). I mean the guitars burn hot and the smoke does indeed rise from the 11 tracks on this ferocious thrash album, one that boasts a touch of death and more than few MAIDEN-ish harmonies. We're not talking about the 'core variety of thrash either, though a modern sound does permeate the tracks; buzz saw riffing and blazing leads erupt all over this thing. Good things are definitely happening with thrash-based metal in Indiana, as also evidenced by last year's Metal Blade debut for DEMIRICOUS, "One (Hellbound)".
Each of the tunes, all of which fall primarily within the three to three-and-a-half minute range, attack mercilessly and offer opportunities galore to revel in six-string violence. No sweet crooning or messing about with pretty choruses here; it's "1-2-3, kill!" from beginning to end. The Jamie King (THROUGH THE EYES OF THE DEAD) production offers a razor sharp tone and raw delivery as well. Vocalist Chad Zimmerman belts out a raspy scream alternated with well-placed vicious death growls. Pick darn near any song and you'll be treated to ripping riffs, tight double-bass battery and drum fills, and dual harmonies that owe a good deal more to vintage IRON MAIDEN than AT THE GATES. Listening to "Suffer They Nemesis" I find myself impressed by the amount of action the quintet packs into three minutes. Just the right balance between lead work and flaming riffery gives the listener enough to chew on (instrumentally speaking) without driving momentum into the dirt. There is very little time to dissect and analyze, much less exhale, as the band is clearly intent on hitting its target and moving on to the next one.
Though a band like DEMIRICOUS borrows more heavily from SLAYER, the primary similarity between the two bands is not one of blazing new trails, but merely writing solid songs that will sear off the eyebrows of those that stand too close. The path chosen is well traveled; YEAR OF DESOLATION just travels it with a bit more focus and determination than the average 'core imitator.