Pánico Al Miedo are a 4 piece death-thrash hybrid band from Manellu, Catalonia, and like several artists who have featured on this site who hail from this turbulent region, they seem to be channelling the unrest there and creating a formidable musical beast. With a name which translates as ‘Panic To Fear’ and their album title ‘Formador’, which can be translated to mean ‘Constituting’, it can be loosely theorized that the band are seemingly feeding on the unrest and making it into their driving force. This turns out to be pretty handy when you’re a thrash/death act. With guest appearances from musicians who have featured in bands such as Obituary, Testament and the all mighty Death, you can guess this one is going to be heavy.
First thing of note, there’s the usual introductory sample based track which as I have ranted on and on about in the past, is a waste of time unless it actually links into the song. “Popol-Vuh” is an ominous sounding, spoken word styled piece which is all in Spanish/Catalan (Delete as appropriate) and given how my knowledge of Spanish is minimal at best, I haven’t a fucking clue what is being said… But I guess it sets the scene for the title track which follows. Anticipation built from the intro samples, “Formador” bursts to life with a big thrashy groove, but you can hear the more technical metal and death metal stamp all across it, in particular, the likeness to Death itself. Vocally raw, delivered with plenty of bite and venom, combined with a precise, hard hitting drum assault and cutting guitar lines, it’s a formidable opening statement musically, and the guest solo spot from James Murphy (Death, Obituary, Testament) certainly works well! The bonus track also happens to be this song, but instead it has Bobby Koelble (Death) providing the lead work which gives a good comparison to how the two musicians approached their role on the track as both lead sections are entirely different!
With this track actually getting the ball rolling, all subsequent tracks seem to carry this familiar feel. The intricate melodies, sequences and riffs all have that slight technical edge and feel to them which you would naturally associate with Death, and much like the band Death, Pánico Al Miedo have that death/thrash/metal hybrid feel to them – able to subtly blend the genres without it feeling too forced. Whilst this is impressive, the fact it sounds too much like Death is a little disheartening – it’s more like an imitation than something inspired. Still, this aside, you can hear other approaches in there. Sections of “Hermanos De Sangre” (Blood Brothers) have a very technical and intricate feel to them, almost like Psycroptic in some ways. “Cebos Vivos” (Live Bait) is a rapid fire thrash metal riff-fest with death metal tone and intensity, blisteringly raw and the leadwork is rather solid (Bobby Koelble of Death guests) but the rhythm section really stands out. “No Voy A Perder” (I’m Not Gonna Lose) is a straight up neck-wrecker of a thrash track which is packed with pace and guaranteed to see bodies moving in a live setting and “Asfixiar Con Verbo” (Suffocate With Words) is a colossal groove titan of a track with a formidable low end presence and sledgehammer like riffs!
In all, “Formador” is a solid release but the more you listen to it, the more you realise it is basically a watered down version of a tribute to Death. The songs are great, the vocal delivery is dynamic and powerful, the leads are fantastic and the drumming is phenomenal… But it does feel like Death-Ja vu… You just have a sense of ‘Yeah I’ve heard this before’ when you listen through it. This might be a task, but eventually you can appreciate it for what it is- technical minded thrash/death metal!