The next installment of Heavy Artillery's "Wax Maniax Vinyl Demo Series" comes from Portland, Oregon's EXCRUTIATOR, yet another band proving that that there is no limit to monikers ending with the coveted "iator." But seriously folks, the "By the Gates of Flesh" EP is another solid slab of old school thrash metal that stops short of world flame engulfment, but should still sate the denim 'n' leather legions.
No big surprises here and nothing over which to lose one's mind; just a proud display of evil-sounding, KREATOR/SODOM chainsaw gallopers. No letup in momentum across these five cuts, "By the Gates of Flesh" is a fine representation of the dirtier, harsher side of thrash perfected by the Teutonic titans many years ago. The mid-range, raspy vocals of guitarist Chris Birkley are most reminiscent of '80s-era Mille Petrozza and a sizeable chunk of the riffs are unmistakably KREATOR in style, particularly on "Fatal Fornication". The SODOM (as well as DESTRUCTION, to a certain degree) influences are heard via the rough hewn style born in coal mines and factory towns that defined the early German scene. Some pretty good tunes here with opener "Nuclear Exmortis" announcing the act's arrival like an invading army and a six-and-a-half-minute burner in "The Edenwitch of Torment" that demonstrates an ability to delve a little deeper into the finer points of composition. One will hear slight influences from early SEPULTURA and just a pinch of DARK ANGEL from time to time as well. More important for the future is that the approach is spirited and the boys bring some genuine feeling to the table.
At five songs, "By the Gates of Flesh" doesn't wear out its welcome, probably more indicative of EXRUCIATOR's development as a band at this point in time, rather than any strategic decision to keep it short and sweet. In other words, an LP's worth of similar material would have probably resulted in momentum-drag. The good news is that time is on their side. Limited to 200 hand-numbered vinyl copies and 500 CDs.