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Black Thorn Halo
Released: 2016, Self Released
Reviewer: Robert Williams
Black Thorn Halo are a four-piece thrash/groove metal ensemble hailing from Austin, Texas who formed in 2010. They have one previous full-length release under their collective belts with "Texas Fucking Metal" released in 2012.
The bands sophomore release DEADLINE opens with the thrashing "Moving Forward" as the gruff vocaled roar of vocalist Rafa Lopez greets the listener to the bands most professional sounding recorded output so far, opting to work with famed underground metal producer and engineer Stuart "Batlord" Laurence (Agony Column, Ignitor) of Emphatic Audio (Death of Millions, Witches Mark, Thornspawn, Vesperian Sorrow) who does a stellar job in terms of production on DEADLINE. "Out of the Shadows" could best be described as mid to late nineties groove metal coupled with more modern metal influences like Shadows Fall or Lamb Of God, at least in terms of phrasing.
Each player is exceptionally gifted in their chosen instrument as the spotlight shines on bassist Jack "The Ripper" Krupski who leads the band into the catchy one-two punch of "Ready To Fight" with a killer boogie woogie seventies inspired bass line that serves as an ample driving force for this bar room brawler of a bruising metal track. "Night To Forget" is abrasive just for the sake of it as chug a lug metalcore riffs give way to hardcore mosh inspired breakdowns. Musically speaking a guitarist as gifted as Craig Leach is capable of pushing the envelope much further than standard Hatebreed worship as he has proven with the tech thrash of his past ensemble Whore of Babylon. Fortunately Craig adds enough melodic riffery to the mix on "Night To Forget" to keep things interesting.
Craig opens "Only One" with some cool Slayeresque riffing as Rafa brings a strong Anselmo influence to the table. There's also some tasteful soloing and an appearance from Texas Metal Godfather Jason McMaster (Watchtower, Dangerous Toys, Ignitor). So far this is my favorite track on DEADLINE after several listens.
"Nothing You Can Do" musically shifts gears into a more Bay Area influenced thrash sound. Think Exodus and Testament and this track is somewhere along those razor sharp lines. "Staples and Roadrash" another thrashing circle pit self starter lyrically delves into a real life motorcycle crash where vocalist Rafa Lopez was all but left for dead. The album comes to a close with the albums title track "Deadline" a whiplash inducing neck snapper of fluctuating tempos putting over the in the pocket delivery of drummer Eric Mulero.
The self released CD is housed in a jewel case with single panel inlay. It would be nice to see an indie label pick this platter up and re-release with a proper booklet or bonus video content as this recording warrants better packaging. For a band that wears more modern influences on their sleeves they do incorporate the old guard into their live set with covers of "Nailed To The Gun" (Fight) and "You Can't Stop Rock N' Roll" (Twisted Sister). I would recommend this disc to fans of Pantera, nineties-era Slayer and modern groove oriented thrash. I think it's safe to say that we can certainly expect to hear more from Black Thorn Halo" in the future.
1. Moving Forward
2. Out of the Shadows
3. Ready to Fight
4. A Night to Forget
5. Only One
6. Nothing You Can Do
7. Staples and Roadrash
8. BTH Chant
Rafa Lopez - Vocals
Craig Leach - Guitars
Jack "The Ripper" Krupski - Bass
Eric Mulero - Drums
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