Review – Alcoholator: Escape from Reality

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  • Bio: n/a
  • Label: High Roller Records
  • Release Date: May 15th, 2015
  • Genre: Thrash Metal
  • Website: Visit Website
  • Rating (out of 10):

Alcoholator is yet another Thrash Metal group that style’s breeding ground of Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Originally formed back in 2010, this freshly born entity wasted little time, issuing their four song Drunker Than Thou demo later that year, a release that led to their debut full-length, Coma, to see release through EBM Records in 2011. 2012 saw bassist Jesse Mamano depart, and then 2013 found his replacement, Marc, leave a year later. As it stands, guitarist Oli Whiskey (ex-Talamyus), lead vocalist and guitarist Matt Butcher (ex-Abüsor), and drummer Phil Macht (Under the Grave) remain the only founding members, joined by bassist Jonathan Gourdeau (WarCall) in 2013, and Fred Bizier (Reanimator) in 2014. It’s now 2015 and the five-piece dual-bassist Thrashers return with their overdue follow-up album, Escape from Reality. But is this group one to stand tall among the many pioneers to the sub-genre as their hometown, let alone home country, has managed to produce over the years, or is this something destined to be swallowed up by both the modern and current genre revival movements?

Escape from Reality carries itself with a subtle hint of a Crossover Thrash vibe and dirty atmosphere in the vein of Tankard (who this band is considered to be the Canadian answer for) and early Exodus, not to mention modern revivalist entries like Gama Bomb and even Municipal Waste. Aggressive and somewhat lo-fi, Alcoholator unleash bulky sounding performances that seem to cater more to a higher pitch in its analog foundation despite having two bassists within its ranks. The glory to this, however, is that you get the best of both worlds. Not only is there a deeper, though somewhat drowned out backbone to the music, there’s also a notable twang that acts like another rhythm guitar, a welcome addition to this gritty throwback to the style’s glory days.

After a solid “Intro” track that sets up the album quite well by presenting that gritty sound and audio quality with the nods to the aforementioned non-revival groups, especially that of Exodus thanks to the strong bass twang and moments of catchy Hardcore grooves thrown in, Alcoholator kicks you right in the face with “Punch Drunk”, naturally building on the aggression already established before the song even begins by slowly increasing the hostility, laying off it for the main verses with more of a Punk-fuelled attitude, which shows more in the raw representation of the harsher vocals that sometimes leaves even the listener gasping for air. This trait carries into other segments thanks to the well timed two-step bridges, though is thrown away when the anger and enthusiasm reaches it’s pinnacle come the climactic guitar solos towards the end, the latter channelling a well executed Neoclassical approach that may be brief, but is entirely effective to the overall tone of the song, as well as the album. It’s just a shame this is the only time we get to hear something like it.

“Escape from Reality” is definitely one of the more enthusiastic cuts of the release though. Channelling more of a modern revival Crossover Thrash influence, you can’t help but pick up on a hint of a Science Fiction theme through the tight guitar work and lyrical content on par with the aforementioned Gama Bomb, even with subtle Vektor undertones, but without the dominating falsetto screams throughout. They exist, but only in short, underutilized bursts. The band’s aggression is on display as well, making the simpler chorus a far more addicting experience, though it could have done with a stronger groove and some gang chants to bulk it up a little more.

Alcoholator“The Bleeder” has a good amount of those chants in a much faster Hardcore Punk offering with matching rebellious overtones. This also shows off the dual-bass guitar presence perfectly at the minute-and-a-half point, really pushing a deeper tone in all the guitars while speed remains the issue, hammering away as if literally rolling the music at you with a commanding authority that “Out of Control” seems to pick up on in a noticeably slower pace. Two-step drums and a sharper, thinner output from the riffs inspired by the genre plug away in the main verses, though cave to one-note deeper chugging from time to time.

And then there’s “Molotov Cocktail”, one of the more technical sounding performances on the album, though the song itself starts off fairly unoriginal. The presence of Annihilator‘s influence is definitely felt here, largely due to how similar the introduction sounds like the beginning and chorus of their song “Knight Jumps Queen”. Beyond that, however, the track takes on a darker presence to the material established earlier on. It’s not bad in any way, in fact it feels a lot more natural to the group’s compositions compared to the more upbeat hostility up to this point. There’s also a brief nod to the So-Cal approach on the genre thanks to the bass line just past two-and-a-half minutes in that may seem small and trivial to really pay attention to, but it’s a nice nod the fans of that particular sound will appreciate.

Other than having two bass guitars at work to really amplify that aspect of the sound to the benefit of the listener against the more analog quality, not to mention a darker side that you’ll walk away wishing the band focused a hell of a lot more on, that’s about as far as the uniqueness goes on this release. There’s little that separates the band from the initially mentioned pioneers other than some random Crossover Thrash and Punk influence that is a nice touch, but just as typical. Of course, none of this means Alcoholator is a bad group or that Escape from Reality is a boring album full of cliché. In fact theis group does a great job and the release is pretty good as a whole. If anything, Alcoholator takes the traditional gritty Thrash/Crossover style from when bands like Anthrax and Exodus ruled the roost, put some finishing touches on it and, really, that isn’t a bad thing overall. If you enjoy a good-old-fashioned Thrash Metal beat down with alcoholic themes wedged in from time to time, Escape from Reality will end up something you will appreciate for what it is.

AlcoholatorDigital review copy of this release provided by High Roller Records via Sure Shot Worx PR.