BulletbeltAny band called Bulletbelt is going to have me clamouring for their album to review immediately as I expect stripped down metal that sweats and bleeds steel. Residing in the Southern Hemisphere, namely New Zealand, this second album of raw metal has a thrash feel but is frosted around its periphery by black metal malevolence.

Opening with a seven minute song is always brave for a band but I commend them for attempting to do so as the tune has some galloping noises before erupting with a basic metal riff and scathing vocal shrieks that I found a little too one dimensional throughout the album despite possessing enough savagery to make swallowing barbed wire seem easy. The opener has plenty of fluctuations in tempo but keeps its foot predominantly on the accelerator with rampant double kick coursing through the tune like those galloping noises. An occasional speed metal riff raises its fist which might puzzle the band but I’m aiming that reference squarely at its tonal style. The tune is momentum laden which after five minutes shows no signs of abatement until a lone guitar hook is introduced almost at a distance in the mix before the tune adopts a slower style to close.

My tag of black thrash should be interpreted loosely as mostly the music is thrash based with the throat ripping hinting more of a black essence than the music overall. “Murderer’s Collar” is a punchy thrash song that has an inkling of older stuff from the 80s especially from Germany where a dirtier approach was far more favourable than the clean cut Bay Area style of the same time. “Sniper” is definitely melodic thrash, the riff is catchy and very tuneful but the vocals do spoil the overall feel of the song as I feel a more laid back approach to the vocals would lend themselves to this song with ease instead of continually screeching the lyrics. I’ve said it before countless times in reviews of thrash based stuff, if you want to get noticed then get a singer who can sing cleanly and shred the larynx when required. The lead break on the tune is an acrobatic fret lathering saturation but it works brilliantly. The riff to “Deathgasm” is also a fine example of utilising a speed metal approach but soak it in an acerbic tone as the tune takes on a far more heavy metal like posture of filth ridden metalness that spits sonic shrapnel and has a very similar style to Bewitched (Swedish version not Chile).

Also bordering heavy metal realms is “Numbered Tomb” which starts with a good riff before demolishing it and unleashing black thrash grotesquery via a blast snare and a little like the raft of black thrash bands around such as Deströyer 666, Aura Noir or Desaster. Pernicious and snapping like a rabid dog the vocals suit perfectly here as the aggression from them enhances the sharpness of the riffing. The riff break is very good, stripped back to bleached bone sordidness and displaying some tortured screams the song is a standout for me on the album which closes with the very melodic “Black Banshee”. The nimble riff is retained even when the vocals unceremoniously blast it into the background. The double kick is machine like, coursing through the song like a torrent of water engulfing all in its path. Did I like this release, yes, do I think it’s better than other similar bands out there, no; but the hallmarks of something vast is gathering from that Southern Hemisphere with Bulletbelt who should sweat and bleed that steel like a deluging flood on the next release.

(7/10 Martin Harris)