The scream of "Warrrhhheeeeaaaaddddd!" (No, not the VENOM tune) to begin the second album from Norway's MINDGRINDER was my first clue that "Riot Detonator" would not be the industrial-edged, programmed death metal of 2004's "Mindtech". The previous release had its moments, but felt like a band that was unsure of what it wanted to be. The album left me with little more than a lukewarm feeling. By contrast, "Riot Detonator" charges head on into old school Swedish death/thrash metal with an obvious intent to make each song a highlight. What an about-face, and thankfully so.
Given the members' pedigree (ZYKLON, WINDIR, SCUM), I suppose one shouldn't be too taken aback by the quality songwriting and extreme aggression. Each track offers the listener memorable choruses, arrangement variety, and the most rugged riffs this side of Sunlight Studios. The soloing from lead guitarists Nitrous and Titan add to the vintage thrash feel of the disc, injecting the songs with primal emotion without losing focus. Vocalist/bassist/programmer Cosmocrator (some light electronic elements do remain, but only for purposes of accent) barks out gruff and decipherable lines, occasionally changing to a growl. Dropping in vocal changeups in the right places, such as the Nergal-like (BEHEMOTH) layered style (sans the annoyance factor) on "Pathetic Submission" makes the music that much more interesting without ever seeming overdone. Clean vocals are tossed about here and there as well (Don't worry, it works). Utilizing a human drummer this time makes all the difference in the world. Dan's percussive nuance amidst the blasting gives these songs a lot of life. (Ex-DISIPLIN member Nex replaced Dan after the recording).
I could have easily written a track-by-track review of "Riot Detonator", extolling the virtues of each of these gnarly little nuggets. We'll not go that far though and instead substitute the abbreviated version. A minute-long acoustic piece ("Epilogue") joins amp-blowing thrash that hits with ENTOMBED ferocity ("The Rebellion"), HATE ETERNAL dirge riffing mixed with Swedish death metal ("Pathetic Submission"), death march atrocity ("Death's Disciples"), and textured song structures ("Obligation to Prevail"). Also included are videos for the studio version of "Pathetic Submission" and a live performance of "War Solution". What more could you ask for?