|Black Metal, Speed Metal
June 11th, 2009 / June 14th, 2011
Release length: 53:48
With a pretty solid production quality, Bulldozer put together a nice mixture of Black Metal concepts against Thrash and Speed Metal foundations, largely picking up where the band left off with Neurodeliri. The guitars come through pretty sharp through the album, though the solos can sound a bit off due to a distortion that actually feels more Science Fiction synth-driven compared to the heavier distortion it has before, and the cleaner sound of the rhythm guitar. This actually leads to some solos, such as the one at the end of “The Counter-Crusade,” to sound off with a couple cringing moments when some notes you know work simply don’t sound right. The bass here is simply fantastic. The louder volume works to give the music a little extra edge, though it largely just backs up the guitars and doesn’t offer anything more to the album then that. Either way, you can still easily pick up on its presence in the mix. The drums sound rich to this release as well, with the cymbals coming in loud enough to fill the music well, and not be drowned out by any other instrument. The kicks don’t even cause any damage to them, as they have a good click but podded to around the same volume level. The snares sound tight with a slight distance and echo thrown in for good measure. The vocals, however, are really varied. “Use Your Brain” offers up a rhaspier approach similar to earlier Slayer or Faith or Fear, while “In the Name” offers up a more guttural performance, both a little on the rawer side along with the music to give the release a bit of an eighties feel, though clearly from a modern recording.
This becomes more apparent thanks to the opening track, “Unexpected Fate.” This title track kicks things off with a slightly epic and rather moving introduction that has a slow pace to it that becomes haunting and mourning, building until a crack of thunder rips out and the blackened Metal of Bulldozer tears into the listener’s skull. The fast, pounding mixture of Speed Metal and Thrash Metal hammer away with a ruthless aggression accompanied with a Black Metal despair-soaked atmosphere that makes the entire song sound bleak with no escape in sight. This ruthless assault on the listener may sound somewhat familiar as far as inspirations go, which is perhaps largely due to the time of the group’s formation more than anything else, and it’s clenched with the following track, “Aces of Blasphemy.” The mixture of commanding riffs that move at a slower pace while weaving in and out of blistering musical attacks immediately bring up relations to Slayer in the material, but not to the point of plagiarism or idol worship. At least, not with this track. The band’s unique sound is still present here, though the harmonized gang chants in the background as you progress through the album do end up sounding a little less than enthusiastic or intriguing.
While this start establishes much of what the listener has awaiting them, there’s still a good deal of variety to be found. “Use Your Brain” has a slight Death Metal influence in the music while still retaining that aggressive Slayer-esque Thrash mentality. The catchier, energetic track pulverizes the listener with old-school intensity and a guitar solo that sounds great despite the distortion issues, largely due to how rich the song already is and how short that part ends up being. For a four-minute song, you’re really not going to realize you plowed through the whole thing under the last cymbal crash rings out to dead silence to welcome in “Micro V.I.P.,” another track that essentially carries over the same structure, but tackles it with a hint of Crossover Thrash. Unfortunately, that’s about where the style experimentation draws the line for a little while, though “Buried Alive by Trash” does usher in a little keyboard use that gives some of the bridges here a hint of a haunting, post-apocalyptic kind of environment to them.
That emotional sense can be found again on the interlude track “The Prediction,” which bleeds into the closing “In the Name.” This is easily the most intriguing of the songs here, largely because of it’s more epic Black Metal approach with some guttural vocals that border on something you’d expect to hear on a Black Metal effort. The atmosphere here is completely different, far from the oppressive, commanding, and bleak sound that made up the rest of the release. Instead, the band gives off an early second wave Black Metal sound that gives a melancholic and frostbitten sound that has a slightly sleeker sound to it without going into a heavily Symphonic terrain, though you can hear some very slight keyboard elements in the background to aid the environment the band is going for. The song eventually picks up into a Thrash-driven sound, but it takes a while to get there and, honestly, after the really well done start of the song, you can’t help but wish this didn’t happen and the band stuck with that strictly Black Metal approach. It allowed for a little variety to the somewhat repeating concepts and even slightly patterned chorus you’ll pick up through the release.
Unexpected Fate was released in 2009 through Scarlet Records, and for 2011 the label brought it back but in a “special edition” reissue format. Honestly, there was no real need to release this one again other than to try to get people to buy it for the live tracks that are already available. There are four live recordings on this release, and all of them come from the band’s recently released Live at Rock Hard Festival, Germany 2010. Included are the older tracks “IX/Desert,” “Minkions,” and “Willful Death.” The last two are taken from the end of the set while the first prior to half way through. The fourth is “Micro V.I.P.” which appears on this full-length album. The audio quality to these are clearly from the sound board and they do sound pretty good, but overall there’s no real need to buy this album if you already own it. Even if you don’t, there’s nothing special about this “special edition” and becomes pointless to own unless you’re OCD or a die-hard fan/collector. Instead you can just buy both, and probably used for as much as you’d pay for this one.
Unexpected Fate is a welcome return from Bulldozer, and aside a few small issues in the band’s performance and choice of distortions, this album is a fantastic comeback release from one of the eighties most underrated, unknown acts. While this effort may not have been worth the roughly twenty-one year wait, it’s definitely a great album that’s well worth looking into, as well as a nice homage to the memory Dario Carria to show that his work with the group all those years didn’t go to waste despite what happened. However, it does feel like a bit of a spit in the face to him and anyone involved with the group that this album was reissued two years later as a “special edition” with four songs taken directly from a live album that dropped roughly one year before. In the end though, Unexpected Fate is an album that fans of early Metal definitely should add to their collection.
01. Unexpected Fate – 4:16
02. Aces of Blasphemy – 3:01
03. Salvation for Sale – 2:42
04. Use Your Brain – 4:01
05. Micro V.I.P. – 3:45
06. Bastards – 3:39
07. Buried Alive by Trash – 4:11
08. The Counter-Crusade – 5:07
09. The Prediction – 1:13
10. In the Name – 5:26
11. IX/Desert (Live) – 4:04
12. Minkions (Live) – 2:57
13. Micro V.I.P. (Live) – 4:11
14. WIllful Death (Live) – 5:00
|Initial Pressing Score: 9/10
2011 Special Edition Score: 9/10
Digital review copy of this release provided by Scarlet Records.