Orange County, California may conjure up images of real housewives. For me I picture Laguna Beach, Irvine and a place called Lake Forest, which I know well. Not so well though to know that this is where progressive thrash metallers Madrost come from. “The Essence of Time Matches No Flesh” is the band’s third album release.

A driving force and a following wind energise the opening song “Eyes of the Deceit”. This is impressive. It’s melodic, heavy, the drum has power and authority and there are flourishes in the guitar work. The song transforms into dark instrumental territory towards the end and even had what I perceived as a psychedelic touch. A little bassy twist captures attention on “The Silence in Ruins” but this is another technically-inspired driving force, firing off in a more thrash-like vein, yet still managing a short guitar section reminiscent of Opeth and a majestic serenade before its grand ending. You may gather that there’s a lot going on. And I like what’s going on.

Rumbling, colourful thunder runs through this album. In the way of thrash metallers, Madrost seem to be bursting to get on with it but inject the album with surprises. Little twisty passages and tempo changes abound. It’s surprising how they get so much into so little. But unlike some bands who cause frustration by starting something interesting and moving on, this is fluent. After all manner of twists and turns and much triggering, “From Sand to Dust” ends with deep growliness – time for headbanging reflection. “Abstractions” is exhilarating. In the furious race against time, it’s melodic, technical and innovative. In amongst the technical thrash, there are two sludgy spoken passages. It’s aggressive, burns rubber and it’s huge fun. Love it. “No Future” doesn’t sound much fun, at least going by the title and its dark and edgy lyrics. Bells chime and there are cosmic waves – where did they come from? Actually, it’s a bit of a false start and I think they could have done more with this. I suppose the apocalyptic start was the no future, but hell, we’ve got some thrashing to get on with. Four minutes or so of that, and the song takes a downbeat turn with a suitably hypnotic guitar section, rising upwards in tempo, technicality and epic quality. Speaking of quality, there’s technical excellence at every turn. Guitar sophistication and complex drum patterns ooze out of the brutality and anger. “Dimensions” starts out atmospherically. I’m just repeating myself by saying it’s highly charged, but it is. Every song is intense. The screaming vocalist’s delivery has the air of Immortal’s Abbath for a moment, but what I felt on this song more than even the others was its sharp atmospheric quality. Danger is in the air as we’re “lost inside a world behind a thin disguise”. Blasting drums and eerie guitar rhythms bring it to a close. All the individual sections are good on this album but what’s even better is the way it’s all mashed together to create one multi-layered whole.

“The Essence of Time Matches No Flesh” is a joy to listen to. It has everything. Madrost manage to mix thrash metal with highly accomplished technical progressive metal. The structures and transformations within the songs are superb, so making the listening into an exciting experience. I reckon Madrost would be an excellent live band too. Now that’s one for the bucket list.

(9.5/10 Andrew Doherty)