In the midst of recent times has there ever been a more apt soundtrack than Death Metal? The whole world appears plunged into perhaps the closest thing to a zombie apocalypse this earth is ever likely to see. Although truth be told it isn’t all as fun as people may well have imagined. Being locked up for two weeks might sound fantastic but in reality it highlights the importance of going outside, socialising and so forth. Alas I’m sure you’re all fed up with the constant news of recent developments and as such why don’t you take your time to read this review and just escape, if only for a few minutes.

Today we speak of a rather important figure in the Death Metal underground and a figurehead of the Dutch Extreme Metal scene, Thanatos. The Death Thrash quartet formed in 1984, following which they released Emerging From The Netherworlds in 1990 and Realm Of Ecstasy in 1992. However in that same year they sadly split. Only to reappear in 1999 and release another classic in 2000, Angelic Encounters. From here on the band have remained consistent and strong. Now in 2020 we are graced with their seventh studio album Violent Death Rituals through Listenable Records, but how does it fair in the modern age with so much competition?

The opening title track is full of purist Metal riffs and pummelling drums. Then comes the Death tinged Thrash vocals to complete the package. The one way I can describe the sound is modern old school, by which I mean a more extreme modern Kreator. That sort sound whereby an old band reinvents themselves but with better production and not detracting from their prior works. Continuing the catchy modern Death Thrash barbarity comes Unholy Predators, a strong track indeed, perhaps the strongest on the album. There really appears no let-up either as The Outer Darkness gives us yet more intertwined vocal and riff pairings that are simply the embodiment of Extreme Metal.

Ushering in the second half of the record comes It Always Ends In Blood, which dare I say exhibits almost Melodic Death Metal riffs, backed of course with a Thrash core. Sadly however the later part of the album becomes a little more tiresome. It isn’t bad by any means but it appears that the prior excitement has since departed and left in its wake a few filler tracks. Thankfully As The Cannons Fade provides a befitting closure for the record. It’s a track of relatively epic proportions, full of aggression and power and a true testament to the growth of Thanatos as a band. A track which really shows that they are moving with the times.

If you love the old school and just can’t let it go then do yourself a favour and pick up a copy of Violent Death Rituals. This is a fantastic display of modernist Death Thrash both for newcomers and seasoned fans. That to me is the perfect combination for it shows the immortality of the genre of Metal as a whole. We all have that random mid career record that we love and this could well be yours. If you want to get into Death Thrash then this is certainly a good place to begin, it may not ever be seen as overtly classic but really does that matter? So long as you enjoy it and it makes an impact, that’s the real importance.

(8/10 George Caley)