Fastkill: Bestial Thrashing Bulldozer

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Fastkill: Bestial Thrashing Bulldozer
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Fastkill: Bestial Thrashing Bulldozer
Thrash Metal
BxTxHx, Pulverised Records (2012)
December, 2011 / August 14th, 2012
Release length: 31:02
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Fastkill return with their latest full-length offering, Bestial Thrashing Bulldozer, which is finally seeing a North American release. The group formed back in 1996, and is a Japanese Thrash Metal act with much of their discography isolated to the overseas market or largely underground labels. This includes Satanic Lust Records for 2004’s Infernal Thrashing Holocaust, and Worlchaos Production for 2007’s Nuclear Thrashing Attack, not to mention those who issued the many split recordings the band has done throughout their career. In 2011, this record was issued under BxTxHx, who (at this time) only have five releases under their belt. Since then, the band has signed with Pulverised Records, who have made this follow-up recording available to a larger audience. But, is this truly a well hidden gem from the east, or does Bestial Thrash Bulldozer fail to plow its way into the listener’s heart?

Unfortunately the audio doesn’t work out too well to capture the drive this act has. While Bestial Thrashing Bulldozer still sounds great, the music itself ends up being a bit too light and weak. The drumming is phenomenal with strong, tight snares that match the subtle click of the bass kicks that aren’t too impressive, but get the job done. The same goes for the cymbals, which fill up the music nicely, but end up often sounding somewhat emotionless outside the faster passages. The bass is actually quite loud and a bit higher in pitch, giving it enough of a grounded sensation to have a nice bite, but the twang of the bass can easily be heard during slower passages. This allows it to become a whole new layer to the music when done right, but in many faster areas they don’t quite have the same impact. This isn’t necessarily the fault of the instrument or the band member playing it, but rather the higher traditional Thrash distortion that sounds pushed a bit into the background, yet sounds remarkably crisp. The vocals are at a decent level, and offer the most enthusiasm you can honestly feel getting your blood pumping, tackling the higher falsetto approach quite well in a stern manner that takes a song or two to get accustomed with if this approach is not something you’re readily familiar with. Sadly, all of this just makes the recording sound restrained despite the enthusiasm the band is trying to capture, which is not properly portrayed thanks to either the time in the studio, or some point in the production.

Bestial Thrashing Bulldozer is actually along the standard side of music, though the falsetto vocals definitely help it stand out a little more. There’s also a good deal of attitude that can be found in many tracks, ranging from a serious venomous tone to more of a Punkish rebellion. Of course, you wouldn’t expect it given the introduction track. “Kill Fast” uses this vocal style to create a very unnerving atmosphere thanks to the howling and music that builds in order to bleed into the next song. This is something that the rest of the album doesn’t quite live up to aside similar haunting screams that kick off a few other tracks. But, when “In Thrash We Trust” starts up, you’ll find yourself thinking you have been transported back to the Thrash scene of the eighties, analogish sound and all. This one ends up having a bit of an eccentric touch thanks to the aforementioned higher pitch vocals, as well as the catchy two-step mid-tempo material. The gang chants sound great and are kept a minimum, even when the pace quickly picks up and you’re met with that Punk aggression in the chords with pounding drums that fall just short of being blast beats. The attention to the cymbals works out great, filling the music quite nicely and helping to contrast between the higher and lower pitches a little more than what the bass can do. The guitar solo is pretty short, but it’s very sweet, acting as a superb transition back into the mosh/dance worthy riffs that towards the start. It lasts a brief amount of time before pounding away again, making this two minute and forty-five second experience sound a lot longer thanks to the diversity, and all in a positive manner.

“Stench of Hell” is another shorter song, but one that packs far more ruthless aggression into it, even in the catchier two-stepping passages. This is also one of the few that carries enough energy in a manner that you can legitimately feel. The bass shines through nicely in many areas as well, but largely during the main verses. Similar to “In Thrash We Trust,” the song feels much longer than it is, but in a good way. The howling returns, acting as a great precurser to the gang chants and tighter material that awaits ahead. The pace rarely slows down, and even if it does it isn’t by much. There’s also “Merciless Assault,” which is one of the very few legitimately enthusiastic offerings the album has. It also features audio samples of a tank or a bulldozer creaking along with all its mechanical power, fitting the album’s visual theme in the artwork well. The song’s much faster pace is met with a resounding amount of energy in the vocals that helps to really push this one over the top, as well as make it a memorable experience that will have you coming back for more once everything is said and done. But, while these kind of full force assaults really grab the listening by the throat, you can’t ignore the catchier, yet still aggressive “Toxic Tormentor.” This song has a bit of that Crossover vibe in the atmosphere without losing the non-stop adrenaline and more serious straight-forward Thrash Metal approach. The riffs will instantly have you banging your head along, and while less intricate, the guitar work sounds a lot tighter. The same goes for the drumming, which doesn’t seem restricted to the blast beat-esque approach many other cuts seem to have.

Aside the higher pitch in the audio, the only other gripe about this album is that the songs are cut way too quick at the end. Yes, it does help to keep the album coming off like a fluid recording going from one song right into the next, but sometimes a little pause in between helps. The end of “Stench of Hell” suffers from this, as there clearly seems to be a little more to it that is just dropped in order to give the illusion that it bleeds into the next one. This isn’t something that really hurts your experience with the album, but it definitely is something you’ll be able to pick up on right away without even having to pay much attention, and for some it more than likely will bother them.

All in all, Fastkill do a great job at throwing things back to the glory days of the Thrash Metal style, and it seems they do it with ease. The slight unique touch to the vocals paves the way for this traditional, yet aggressive album to stick out amid the revival, and just shows that the group hasn’t lost their edge after twenty years of being active. It’s sad there are not too many other albums in their discography, but perhaps limiting those releases and focusing on splits are the reason this band still manages to put solid material together with each album, as well as continue to grow into a tighter outfit each time. If you’re a fan of falsetto vocals in your Thrash, or just looking for something different than the many Slayer clones or acts feeding into the Crossover boom, then Bestial Thrashing Bulldozer is well worth your time to check out.

01. Kill Fast – 1:24
02. In Thrash We Trust – 2:45
03. Die in the Pentagram – 3:11
04. Stench of Hell – 2:57
05. Terminal Disease – 4:01
06. Guillotine Attack – 3:07
07. ToxicTormentor – 3:18
08. Endless Game – 2:59
09. Tortured Again – 2:39
10. Merciless Onslaught – 4:43
Overall Score: 8/10
Fastkill (Band)
Fastkill (Logo)
Digital review copy of this release provided by Pulverised Records via Earsplit PR.