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ALBUM REVIEW: Heartless Oppressor – Primal Attack

Thrash metal, one of metal’s longest standing sub-genres, has come a long way since it’s explosive emergence in the 1980s. In order to remain relevant the style has adapted and evolved with newer bands bringing in wider influences to help the sound grow. Three years has passed since Portuguese thrashers PRIMAL ATTACK burst onto the scene with their debut and now, 2017 sees the long-awaited arrival of the band’s sophomore effort, Heartless Oppressor. But, does this new offering really help PRIMAL ATTACK cement themselves in the global thrash metal scene?

From the offset of Heartless Oppressor through opening song Red Silence, the tempo and aggression is at the utmost intense. Red Silence opens with a barrage of riffs laced with groove that will immediately get the head-banging. Sticking to their roots in thrash metal, this opening track is an audio assault through a white-knuckle experience of speed whilst Pica‘s harsh vocal deliveries reign above the chaos. An explosive start indeed.

The band have made it no secret who has influenced their sound; with heavy hitters like LAMB OF GOD, MACHINE HEAD and PANTERA topping the pile. PRIMAL ATTACK wear their influences on their sleeve and sprinkled across the record to enhance their own sound. Halfborn boasts LAMB OF GOD-esque riffing from guitarists Tiago Câmara and Miguel Tereso, with the twin harmonics adding a spice of melody throughout the chugging present on the track’s verses whereas Truth and Consequence‘s lead guitar play will have MACHINE HEAD feeling like a proud parent. As clear as these influences are, this is not just a record that worships the heavy hitters in metal, rather PRIMAL ATTACK channel their influences to only bolster their own output. The result? Absolute power. Take Truth and Consequence for example, after a prolonged introduction through hard-hitting blasts from drummer Miguel Ferreira and intricate lead guitar play, the track explodes into life with the band firing on all cylinders. It’s utterly monstrous and extremely effective.

At its core Heartless Oppressor is a thrash metal record through and through. From the blistering solo on Strike Back to the infectious grooves on Hypersonic Generation, PRIMAL ATTACK tick all the boxes to what makes thrash metal so enjoyable. However, Heartless Oppressor isn’t without its surprises as there are moments throughout the record that go outside of the typical thrash formula. The Prodigal One‘s approach to tempo feels more align to that of industrial with thick bass tones driving home Pica‘s hard-hitting vocal deliveries whilst Heart and Bones is certainly the most melodic track on the record, utilising twin guitar harmonics and clean vocal deliveries. Whilst Heart and Bones may feel a little flat, the utilisation of clean vocals on closing track XXI Century Curse works a charm, bolstering the impact of the track’s emphatic chorus. This ultimately showcases that PRIMAL ATTACK aren’t afraid of experimentation and this risk has only helped expand their musical landscape.

Heartless Oppressor certainly won’t change the landscape of modern metal, but this is a record that showcases a band at who know their trade and unleash it to the maximum. Wearing their influences on their sleeve has proven a success for PRIMAL ATTACK, bolstering their pre-existing sound and showcases a growth in their development. And whilst the experimentation may be hit and miss but Heartless Oppressor is packed full of white-knuckle moments that will ensnare your attention. Heartless Oppressor more than showcases that PRIMAL ATTACK are on the rise and ready to step up to the next tier in our world, so buckle up and enjoy one exhilarating experience.

Rating: 8/10

Heartless Oppressor - Primal Attack

Heartless Oppressor is set for release on February 10th via Rastilho Records.

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