Assaulter: Boundless

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Assaulter: Boundless
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Assaulter: Boundless
Black Metal, Thrash Metal
Metal Blade Records
March 15th, 2011
Release length: 40:17
Myspace
Reverbnation
Assaulter is a Black/Thrash Metal band that hails from New South Whales, Australia, a country that has been giving us plenty of good Black Metal acts throughout the years. Formed in 2004, the group issued their debut full-length recording back in 2008, and recently signed to Metal Blade Records to release their second full-length offering, Boundless. With a cover artwork that catcches your eye, and a logo that screams old-school Thrash, one can only be fight the urge to be drawn to this release through curiosity, but inevitably lose that battle. But, does the cover of this book truly indicate what is to be found inside, or is this a lesson as to why sometimes judging a book by it’s cover is a smart thing?

While the band does bring in a solid old-school Thrash sound to the table, it’s one that shows more along the lines of early first wave Black Metal bands like Venom, while still retaining a more modern second wave Black Metal sound through an underlying Thrash sound against a clear Black Metal foundation. It’s clear that Assaulter tries their hardest to keep the two in check to create an energetic Thrash-fueled assault, but sometimes it becomes obvious that the band doesn’t really know how to work the two into the mix together well enough. “Entrace” is the perfect example of this, which has a very Black Metal foundation for the main verses, and Thrash oriented everything else. The verses are actually nothing that great, but the rest of the song has this great aggressive sound to it that feels like it’s soaked in a more rebellious Thrash sound that bands like Slayer or Sodom would utilize, and hows the band utilizing the two styles together at their best. Perhaps the best part about the song is that it doesn’t really set up this sort of complication throughout the album, as other tracks, such as “Outsine” and “The Perpetual War” show a decent comprehension of how to bridge the two styles together and make really sinister and furious Metal.

The first song that will really spark your interest is “Into Submission”. The song has a nice slower-paced rhythm going on with the Thrash Metal that is just catchy, and the additional Black Metal aggression just makes the song much more commanding, but at the same time has enough energy into that makes it feel a little bit more solid and upbeat then the other songs before it which were decent, but felt a little bland. While some of the music on this release isn’t the strongest, it also has to do with the audio quality. The general final product of the recording isn’t necessarily at fault, but the music itself the band is playing just feels empty and weak. The bass is barely audible, the bass kicks on the drum aren’t all that strong either despite the kit itself feeling a little further in the back of the mix outside a few snares and cymbols that seem to pick up louder, leaving the guitars to really have to pick up the slack, but simply don’t thanks to one guitar being clean, and another having a very thick traditional Black Metal distortion effect on it that just doesn’t have enough of a kick to it thanks the lack of the bass to support it. But yet, the recording itself does sound pretty clear, which becomes another issue since the music itself isn’t too prominant, leading the rather modern and clearer quality to hinder the music greatly and leave it without giving off much of an edge, and leaves many songs to sound like poor transitions from a cassette tape to a modern day studio for press as a compact disc or something along those lines. This causes plenty of the songs on here to just feel really boring.

One of the more promising points to the album is the Middle Eastern musical approach that does manage to appear as the recording progresses. “Slave to King” is really where this sound kicks in, and sometimes it does help to make the music stronger. However, with “Slave to King”, the music’s more open sound thanks to the aforementioned issues in the music, it becomes a very boring traditional middle eastern ritualistic-sounding track that is hollow and far from inspiring. Meanwhile, “Exalt the Master” has a much heavier approach that doesn’t rely solely on the heavily distorted Black Metal effect on the guitars, leaving a stronger performance from the somewhat cleaner sounding guitars against a far more energetic performance from the band. This also allows the bass to come through a little better, and the drumming becomes more solid as well as focuses a lot more on the snares, which for the most part have been picked up nicely in the recording, though not always used to their fullest until this song, often leaving a strong focus on the double bass kicks which, like the bass guitar, can often be unheard. Even the guitar solo on this track is jaw-droppingly impressive, and it really just captures the potential that Assaulter has as a band when their music becomes a little more focus and energetic given their restraints on this release to begin with. The same can be said for “Dying Day”, which is another strong and aggressive track from Assaulter that manages to blend the Black and Death Metal concepts together well and create a track that has a lot of energy behind it and a stinging overall sound, like the sand of the Middle Eastern sound they bring to the mix slashing against your skin with a sinister motive behind each one. These two, as well as “Into Submission” and “The Perpetual War”, represent the band’s capabilities to write some great material.

Boundless ends with the more aggressive Black Metal side showing through once more for the longer closing track “The Great Subterfuge”. Through the album, it’s as if you are listening to the band progress to become better with each track, and this track feels like their approach at putting all that progress they made behind them. The song is much like “Entrance”, though it clearly has a strong Black Metal presence from start to finish. The guitars aren’t too bad on this one, and the bass is still lost in the music, but what really drags this track down at times is the slower drum performance against the much faster moments with the guitar, a problem that has plagued this album up to “Slave to King”, of course baring exception to the stronger and more energetic “Into Submission”. The drumming on the song stays an admirable mid-tempo pace through much of the song when it’s also at that pace, but when the song picks up speed, the drumming seems to become much weaker and hollow, slowing down to either a crawl, or just feel like nothing is being done, and had the volume of the cymbols or kicks been better, this wouldn’t have been much of an issue as they would have made the drums sound richer in the long run, thus only making the slower drums against faster guitars the issue. Sadly, that’s not what happens here.

It’s hard to sit down and say that Boundless is a horrible CD. In fact, it really isn’t too bad, and only feel limited due to the overall sound, and the music on some tracks just being too hollow thanks to some of the effects the band used on the guitar. It’s far from a raw recording, and the instruments often seem to be geared towards a production style more analog then digital. With all of that working against Assaulter, it makes about half the album absolutely boring, but not enough that it becomes an endurance test to reach the latter better tracks. One common fault here is that Assaulter also doesn’t seem to really bring their a-game into each song, which greatly adds to the overall boring sound of songs like “Entrance” and “Slave to King”. Overall, the band shows their pros, as well as their cons with Boundless that’s just not the most impressive release out there in the Black/Thrash Metal field.

01. Entrance – 4:17
02. Outshine – 3:32
03. Into Submission – 3:40
04. Slave to King – 5:38
05. The Perpetual War – 6:02
06. Exalt the Master – 4:26
07. Dying Day – 4:23
08. The Great Sibterfuge – 8:18
Overall Score: 5.5/10


Digital review copy of this release provided by Metal Blade Records.