Nobody can accuse Berlin's FATAL EMBRACE of jumping on the retro-thrash bandwagon, regardless of Metal Blade releasing "The Empires of Inhumanity" in the thick of the trend. The band formed in 1993 as NOSFERATU before changing the name. Fans of thrash played in heyday form will find nothing distasteful about "The Empires of Inhumanity", an album that stays stubbornly true to the basics.
Nothing wrong with that, right? Wrongness or rightness, "The Empires of Inhumanity" is unashamed thrash metal that apes '80s SLAYER ("Hell Awaits" and some degree of "Reign in Blood") in a big way, especially the vocal patterns of Heiländer, including his spot-on Tom Araya scream. "Wake the Dead" and "Ravenous" represent that particular approach to the nth degree, doing it well without any semblance of originality whatsoever. Surely owing to the German background, the incendiary disc also features a fair amount of KREATOR and SODOM, as well as the occasional nod to early TESTAMENT, while the eerie slow builds of "Empires of Inhumanity" are reminiscent of METAL CHURCH's self-titled debut LP. How could diehard fans of vintage thrash metal level complaints with those kinds of comparisons?
They couldn't. The billowing smoke burns the nostrils with the smell of 1986 and very few will ever find that discomforting. In typical terms, it is the admission of the more well round metal fan that "The Empires of Inhumanity", while thoroughly enjoyable and competently written, does nothing to raise the bar set by those hallowed acts. If it is head banging that you seek, then it is head banging that you shall get with FATAL EMBRACE's new album. As the old saying goes, it is what it is. Some will be gush with thankfulness for it; others will offer appreciative sentiments and move on.