Well, this was quite a surprise! When the (rather attractive) digipack CD arrived through the door, and I saw that this was an American thrash album, I must confess that I had a certain sound already stereotypically going through my head. Suppressive Fire, from Raleigh NC (no, I have no idea where that is either, but it is apparently “war torn”) are a rabidly aggressive thrash outfit that appear to have rather more to do with early German thrash with dashes of the slightly unhinged Australian tones thrown in for good measure than the mid-tempo crunch that one generally associates with our trans-Atlantic cousins. In this case, that’s a good thing.
“Nature of War” starts with an absolute rager – “Violent Enlightenment”, which channels the primitive fury not unlike a more modern take on the classic Sodom sound, circa “Agent Orange”. It’s a track that comes rattling out of the speakers like a rabid, starved dog that’s just been let off the leash, and with about the same amount of decorum. “Depraved” follows, sounding not unlike Destroyer 666, if that Antipodean crowd had just been injected with industrial grade Amphetamines. “No Man’s Land” has a slightly different vibe, with a cool Neat Records NWOBHM inspired riff giving way to some hefty chug, and in that regard coming across like a less bone-headed version of the much maligned Scepter. “Dreaded Bastards” is…erm…the Dreaded Bastard that infests many thrash albums, the almost-nine minute epic, complete with clean sounding guitar introduction and plaintive moments. Thankfully, this gives way to a much more convincing metal mini-anthem, with some pretty tasty lead guitar parts that can breathe with a slightly less frantic tempo. “Earthripper” really could have been lifted from any number of top-tier Teutonic thrashers of the late 80’s, and sounds none the worse for it, all adrenaline and gonzo racing-to-the-finish song writing. The title track is a cracker, with some great drumming and a furious vocal attack. “Vesicant” begins with an introductory riff that sounds as if it might have made the grade for the better Anvil albums, and continues in a lurching fashion throughout much of the song. It’s not one of my favourites on the platter, but to be fair, it has some moments, such as the slightly deranged guitar duelling at around the three minute mark. Album closer “Nuclear Dismemberment” (which sounds messy) is a great album closer, with an infectious beat that seems to have been written with the explicit aim of getting heads banging, and fists in the air. I can only imagine how great this track is live.
In terms of the production – well, it’s a bit like an extremely hot chilli – it’s powerful, raw, but it won’t be to everyone’s taste. Personally, I thought it managed to find that sweet spot between sounding authentic enough that those of us who like their music not to sound polished to and beyond the point of perfection will be satisfied, without being so organic that it becomes unlistenable. In particular, the guitar sound is absolutely excellent, with a great sharp tone that really adds to the viciousness of the piece. Vocally, the rasping delivery tends more towards the Tom Angelripper side of rattled delivery, and it suits the music down to a T. I’ve heard (and seen) a lot of thrash bands recently (having just come back from Hard Rock Hell: Metal in Birmingham), and many of the new ones go through the tropes without ever sounding like they bring any actual character to the table. Well, Suppressive Fire have plenty of character – and they certainly stand out from the pack. Great stuff, and at eight tracks, this is an album that leaves the listener craving more.
(8.5/10 Chris Davison)