FanthrashFanthrash – a strange name for a band. According to their website, their name apparently morphed from the original moniker of Fantom – just lowered in ‘om’ but with newly added ‘hrash’. Makes all the difference to help them stand out I guess (I’d imagine there’s been a fair few Phantoms/Fantoms etc over the years). Anyhow, apparently these guys were one of the very first thrash metal bands to form in Poland back in 1986 no less, when the iron curtain was very much still standing strong. However, ‘Duality of Things’ is the band’s debut album, released well over 25 years since forming. Sure they had a handful of demos to their name back in the day, as well as an EP in 1990, but it seems the band had just gone through a huge period of inactivity until 2007 when they decided to start back with regular rehearsals again.

Perhaps the return of thrash to regular metallers vocabulary in the 00s helped them get the taste for “getting their album on” after all those years, but whatever it was that kicked them into gear, here it finally is in all 49 minutes of its form. Although it has a modern sound, the riffage and song structure have a fairly old school vibe about them, albeit with some outside metal influences thrown in other than thrash (a good heap of progressive metal, for example, not to mention nods to the likes of Atheist or even Gojira at points throughout the album). The main body of the album is made up with regulated chugging, but there’s plenty of ripping solos to cover this (a lot of which have a similarly double tracked sound to a lot of the soloing on Death’s ‘Symbolic’, but that’s about as far as those comparisons go). There’s also lots of melody throughout (although, not particularly with the vocals which instead have a decent growl to them a la Mille of Kreator, or the often similar to the dry bellow of Peter from Vader). The mid-tempo thrashing reminds me of the slower parts of Arise-era Sepultura at times too – just not anywhere near as vicious or feral as that seminal release. The band aren’t afraid to show more of their  progressive side either (“Lizard Skeleton” is a prime example of this, marrying chugs with wankery and fiddly guitar parts that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Spastic Ink record). However, their main focus is very much in the latter day Kreator vein of modern thrash, albeit without anywhere near as much of their bitter venom or acrid bite.

My main gripe is that the album sags heavily from about half way through, before picking up again at the end. The song quality drops fairly rapidly, and at times I was struggling to keep attention, even after multiple listens. Some would call this a ‘valley album’, starting and ending high with a big dip in the middle, and I can’t think of a better analogy for this – I’d say it’s a prime example in fact. Still, there are some great moments here, and the album as a whole is above average – but I just can’t help but feel short changed by the few duff tracks which make up the guts of this release. At 49 minutes long I can’t help but think they could’ve done with those unnecessary tracks cut out altogether.

Fanthrash certainly have the chops and technical ability to become a known force, and there is a lot I like about their sound. But, unless they get some serious quality control on their material – for me – they’ll always be a band who merely hovers in the background.

(6/10 Lars Christiansen)