An early death metal form of thrash metal or a death-tinged brand of thrash; any way you dice it, EXCRUCIATOR's "Devouring" is still a thrash metal album, albeit one on the heavier end of the spectrum. No molds have been broken and the old school spirit thrives on the Portland act's solid full-length debut album. The retro train continues to pick up passengers. Fortunately, most of them know very well the direction in which they are headed.
In recent terms, the sound falls somewhere around a less-developed EXMORTUS or in old school terms a less death-intensive DARK ANGEL crossed with the nasty disposition of DESTRUCTION. Comparisons to POSSESSED have some relevance as well, although the EXCRUCIATOR attack on "Devouring" is more surgically precise and somewhat less relentlessly reckless. The highlights include "Skulls of the Abyss", "Nuclear Exmortis", "Hunter Killer", which features a DESTRUCTION-esque — and quite cool — chorus pattern, and a thrash galloper called "Metal Forces" that sports a comparatively high degree of melody. Other tunes like "Skulls of the Abyss", the gang-shouted "Disciples of Menace", and the maniacal "Devouring the Flesh of My Master" are more than respectable. No duds have been located.
Aside from noting the flame-throwing guitar solos and an overall approach that burns in blue flame, there isn't much more to say about "Devouring" than you had probably already figured out, based on the style references alone. Well, that and the raspy snarls of vocalist/guitarist Chris Birkle being well suited to the style ends up painting a pretty complete picture. Heavy Artillery purchase decisions carry little risk for consumers seeking quality thrash metal of the vintage variety and EXCRUTIATOR's new long player is no exception.