Review – Devastracktor: Warhorsepowers and a Megaton of Balls

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  • Bio: "Spitting out sardonic humor atop razor sharp speed metal, these Turkusian titans of thrash encapsulate the gritty, fuck you attitude and the raw metal spirit of yesteryears. " - facebook
  • Label: No Sign of Life Records
  • Release Date: December 14th, 2011
  • Genre: Thrash Metal
  • Website: Visit Website
  • Rating (out of 10):

Originally a strictly limited independent promotional release, Devastracktor‘s debut full-length recording Warhorsepowers and Megaton of Balls has been picked up by No Sign of Life Records for a late 2011 release. As if a whole other release entirely, this edition of the album is remixed, mastered, and has new artwork, all to reflect the official release of the album. But, is this strictly underground release one that deserved to be picked up for a proper release?

Well, you can really hear it in the mix that this wasn’t a high budget recording. The audio feels thick and heavy, but not necessary in the good way. The audio here has a slight muffle to it that causes the music to actually sound heavy, but come up rather sterile despite not being clear. The guitars have the kind of heavy distortion you would expect to hear from a Thrash album, and for the most part actually sound really good, especially with the way the bass backs them up by given them a far more blunt edge. But, due to the quality, the music often just feels like it’s lacking energy and being held back a bit, that’s not heavy enough to really get the point across. The same goes for the drums. The cymbals actually come off as lost in the mix more than they should be, the bass kicks have a decent click that sounds a bit dull, and the snares are rather restrained despite obviously having been much louder.

Of all the elements in the recording, it’s the kicks and bass guitar that make the most impact through the fog that is the audio. The vocals, however, are another story entirely. The approach here is a raspy, back of the throat style that normally sounds good, but with the way the audio is, they end up being louder than every other instrument, which causes their imperfections to come through in a much more vibrant manner. It’s a typical approach, but they clash a bit due to how different they sound in volume, and the general gurgling sound to them that probably comes from the distortion used, as well as an echo effect. Aside that, there are gang chants, but chances are good you won’t even notice them considering how low they are against the music.

With the staggering audio imperfections discussed, what’s left is the music, and it’s clear the band has a good idea of where they want their old-school Thrash sound to go. The music itself isn’t bad, but thanks to that sterile, thick audio, it’s a little harder to get into than it should be. “Strike Force 2099” starts off pretty strong thanks to the bass, but without that extra edge, and the less than enjoyable vocals that clearly have too much alteration, it all ends up being a good song that falls apart due to issues beyond the band’s control. There’s a good amount of energy to be found though, regardless of how stifled it is from the mix, and while you may not find your head banging along to each track, you can at least catch yourself tapping your foot along to the rhythm that the drums and bass give off. This is one of the redeeming factors to the recording, as stated earlier, and can really mean the difference between getting behind a song on this album or not. While “Strike Force 2099” comes close, it doesn’t really bring the listener into the headbanging state of mind, yet “Devastracktor Battalion” has more going on with it musically than focusing on the vocals, and because of that and the additional guitar solos that appear throughout, you cannot help but feel some of the energy that this song still has, and find your head moving along to the rhythm.

DevastracktorOne of the things that really do stand out here are the guitar solos. “Devastracktor Battallion” and “No Stories to Tell” both have some fantastic ones, though the latter a much longer one that really matches the intensity that the group tries to bring with them. The song itself is actually quite engaging and shows a bit of a Testament influence to it, while still holding to the more intense, high-speed pace one could expect from an early Slayer album. But, that’s really the only time the first of those two influences really come through. Other then that, it’s music geared to be more of an assault on the senses. This is how the album carries on at this point, but again there’s not a lot that stands out. “The Brutallian” has a nice additional falsetto background vocal performance that appears and really just works with the more aggressive music. It’s also loud enough that it blends with the distortion on the vocals and masks how bad it sounds on them ever so slightly, but these also are not limited to in the background on this track as this is also how the lead approach closes the track out. There’s also the instrumental track “Interlude” which is worth giving a spin. The lack of vocals with the odd distortion really gives the music a chance to shine through, and the slower pace that builds gradually allows the bass in the recording to work it’s magic and make it an enjoyable experience even if you don’t have an urge to bang your head along to it.

All in all, it’s sad to see the outcome of Warhorsepowers and a Megaton of Balls. What lies beneath what could be a terrible production, or a horrible remix and mastering to salvage what was the initial product really left a lot out in the cold. The music feels restrained and the vocals sound absolutely horrible with the way they were handled in the studio. But it’s clear that the band is not to fault here. The music on this album is actually really good, but behind the scenes it seems. The talent is clearly there, but the final outcome just doesn’t have that kick that the Thrash style desperately needs to hook the listener. In the end, it may have been better to have the group re-record the album instead of just have it reworked. Devastracktor is not a band to overlook though because of it, and the album is worth checking out for the underlying glory that is present, but won’t make you want to suffer through the bland audio quality more than once or twice in a row.

Devastracktor

Digital review copy of this release provided by No Sign of Life Records.