Californian thrash metallers HERETIC are back with their third studio album, A Game You Cannot Win, coming five years after their previous record A Time Of Crisis. The band initially formed way back in 1984, with their debut EP coming two years later followed by their first full length album Breaking Point, but disbanded in 1988 with frontman Mike Howe joining METAL CHURCH, and it wasn’t until 2011 that HERETIC reformed with guitarist Brian Corban and former vocalist Julian Mendez.
A Game You Cannot Win begins with Intro, which is relatively self-explanatory – an instrumental to help build up to the following track, usually flowing right into it. However this doesn’t happen in this case, so it is a bit strange as to why the intro exists, and why the album didn’t kick straight off with This World Called Hell. Right from the first second there is no doubt that this is a thrash album, big hard hitting riffs at a high tempo. The vocals from Mendez are also definitive thrash, with his aggressive vocal style setting the tone. Really this should have been the first track that the listener hears, as it establishes the sound for the rest of the record and what to expect for the next 40 minutes or so.
The recipe from the first track flows right through the album (excluding Intro and Outro which really seem out of place). It’s hard to pick out which tracks stand out the most, as HERETIC have fallen into the trap of most of their songs sounding the same. Having given the record a run through a few times, the title track is one of the highlights, as it helps to reiterate that hard, aggressive sound associated with thrash metal, as well as Demonized, Relentless and Before The Fall – but in all fairness the same could be said for any of the other tracks on the record.
One of the problems that some bands tend to come across is that while they’re working so hard on creating their own distinctive sound, they try to apply that to all of their other songs. Sometimes it works well if there’s a bit of variety, for example the tempo being taken down a notch or a different vocal style.
Unfortunately in the case of HERETIC, it hasn’t worked out that way for them. There’s no doubt they have a unique sound, and that deserves credit as it is extremely difficult to be totally original in the modern rock and metal scene, but it is hard to distinguish between different tracks on this album. Considering it is only HERETIC‘s second album since the band reformed they have potential to go on, and they deliver well on establishing the sound and elements of thrash, but the fact that there is no clear distinction between tracks has let them down.
A Game You Cannot Win is out now via Dissonance Productions.
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