Released: 2011, EBM Records
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
There are some things in life that just go well when paired together, like peanut butter and chocolate, spaghetti and meatballs, or old school thrash and beer. Montreal’s Alcoholator share a fondness for the magical brew (in case you couldn’t tell by their name), as well as a fondness for 80’s inspired ripping thrash, and the result of that union sounds just as good as you’d expect it to. The band’s debut COMA harkens back to a time when riffs were mean and speed was king. Though not without its faults, COMA is the best kind of bender; the low points are kinda hazy, but the best parts of the night are stellar.
Alcoholator’s brand of thrash has a definite smell of early Kreator and a hint of pre-REIGN Slayer, albeit with less spit n’ polish. And though the band espouses its love of malted hops and barley, they do have a more serious side to their approach which lends the tunes some credibility. Stylistically, COMA is divided into two nations – whiplash speed and circle pit skankers.. It's the simplest kind of variety, but one that prevents a familiar formula from getting stale. COMA does a nice job of building some energy with the “Intoxication 101” intro, which then opens the door for the band’s namesake track. The knuckle draggin’ mosher “Catastrophic Violence” follows, but it’s the album’s best track, “Abduction” that shows just what these dudes can do. Between you and me, these first four tracks are the best on the album and merit checking these guys out.
The momentum hits a lull with a cover of Exciter’s “Pounding Metal,” which while I’m sure it’s an inspirational track for the band, it stunts the album's flow. It would've been better suited as an end of disc bonus track, so skip over it until the end of the album. But the ship rights itself with “Drink Beer or Die Trying” and the closing “Wasted All the Time” both of which reminded me of Gang Green's heaviest moments.
My only real grievance with COMA is with the lead guitars on the album. The core of the tunes are all pretty solid, but the lead work comes across as sloppy and inexperienced. It's a little issue that detracts from the otherwise positive work done by the band. If it's an intentional move - it's a poor creative decision. Otherwise, somebody needs to take a few lessons and step up their game.
Did I mention the album cover? Who would let a surgical team drink tall boys while working on a patient? Seriously though, it’s a great throwback to those over the top album sleeves from back in the day. Alcoholator may not offer much in the way of variety, but what they do, they do very well. COMA is the kind of album that will have you cranking your speakers up to 10, pissing of your neighbors, and scaring your cats as you flail around your living room in metal induced madness. Or maybe that was just my experience. COMA is available now through EBM Records, check out Alcoholator’s website for more info and some great stories from the road.