Artist: Cathartic Demise
Album: In Absence
Release Date: 09/04/2021
Thrash metal is quite an odd beast in the heavy metal spectrum. The genre is phenomenally influential, but also remarkably static. Often the only thing that marks out bands from the 80s, 90s, 00s and onwards is the quality of their recorded sound. Unlike death, black and doom metal where there are distinctive progressions and stylistic changes that have occurred over time, generally speaking that isn’t the case with thrash. Certainly there are bands who have pushed the boundaries of thrash metal, but there hasn’t been anywhere near the level of cross-pollination between thrash and other genres as there has with other styles to create unique subgenres. This isn’t necessarily a criticism of thrash as a genre, but it is a phenomena that means the thrash metal bands of today need to work very hard, and very smart, to make themselves distinct and memorable. Each band will find a different way to do this, and for Cathartic Demise their method is two-fold.
Firstly, they really distinguish the type of thrash metal they are going for. This isn’t the dirty and harsh style that bands like Sepultura or Sodom specialised in, this is the melodic and lead guitar focussed style that is very reminiscent of the aforementioned Annihilator, but also of modern bands like Sylosis and Revocation. They use this form of composition in a way that is progressive and musical rather than just technical and flashy for the sake of it.
The opening double salvo of With Lust… and For Power is a roaring, anthemic opening with a really strong hook, and the following track Blade In The Dark has some wonderfully boisterous solo sections, the harmonies melding together superbly. The title track is probably the most engrossing on the album. From it’s insanely catchy opening riff and chorus hooks, to the sublime harmonising leads that break through the rabid and brutal verses, it’s a track which perfectly sums up Cathartic Demise’s thrash sound.
Secondly, Cathartic Demise bring in distinct segments from other genres to their songs. Although part of me wishes they had done more of it on the album, it does provide some real intrigue. Of course death metal is a natural partner to thrash, but the band really dive deep into the sound in the end section of Disparity, and particularly on Silence Within which revolves around some Suffocation-esque drum beats and gnarly guitar riffs. The band also incorporate some melodeath components in the chunky riffing and sweeping leads of the title track.
There are also passages of black metal in the first half of Disparity, with the blast beats and tremolo guitars flowing brilliantly into the thrash riffs in between. Somehow the band don’t blend this into a blackened-thrash style like Skeletonwitch, instead keeping the thrash and black metal quite separate but perfectly balanced. They also manage to incorporate some interesting doom metal influences. Pale Imitations goes into full on Sabbath territory with it’s mournful trudging opening, while Waves finds the band exploring the gothic doom styles of Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride. Again, the band manage to really nail these sections, and Waves in particular feels like a really refreshing climax, joining up with the very melodic final track Desire extremely well.
This however also leads me to my small criticisms of the album. For the majority of the record the tones are very similar, and while that is to be expected from thrash metal, with an album that is close to an hour long it does start to create some indistinctness in the tracks. There’s some incredible playing throughout, but the density of some of these tracks means the energy the band are purveying starts to manifest itself in the listener as lethargy. When the tracks have a clearer structure, such as in the For Power, Blade In The Dark and the title track, then they really shine and I think if the band place more focus on this area in the future they will see a definite improvement.
With all that being said, In Absence is unquestionably one of the best melodic thrash albums I’ve heard in some time. For those who are big fans of the genre and are looking for a band that bring fresh ideas to the table whilst also maintaining the staple sounds of the genre to a high level, then Cathartic Demise should be the answer.
Listen to and order the album: