Released: 2009, Candlelight Records
If you knew absolutely nothing about Blood Tsunami other than they played thrash, I doubt you'd give their CD a second glance on the display rack, especially with the appallingly nondescript artwork. Dig a little deeper and you'd find that they were from Norway, slightly unusual in itself, but nothing to stop the world from turning. Run your eye down the list of personnel, and, your keen eye spotting the name of Faust, ex-con and former drummer of Emperor, you may be tempted to buy the CD on the strength of his name alone. On your unsuspecting way home, you throw the CD on to your car stereo, not expecting too much. Some great driving music, a couple of decent, energetic riffs, some great drumming courtesy of Faust ' that's about it. Or so you think.
The description of the promo said 'Thrash metal', and with their first album named exactly that, THRASH METAL, you're entitled to expect a certain type of sound. But the phrase 'Thrash Metal' doesn't do this album justice, and certainly cannot hope to even begin to describe what Blood Tsunami have done.
Sure, its roots are in thrash metal, namely the bands with a more black metal-ish bent. Plenty of reviewers have picked up on the Slayer influence, especially the more midpaced SOUTH OF HEAVEN-era Slayer. Others will have picked up on the strong Sodom sound, especially their later M-16 style of mid-paced to decently fast tracks, as well as a smattering of early Sepultura and Destruction. Singer Pete Evil's black metal rasp even sounds reminiscent of early Tom Angelripper as well.
This old-school, straightforward thrash sound is also mixed with a newer, more melodic thrash sound that has lots of Testament, Susperia and Iced Earth, and there's hints of the progressiveness of Coroner - time changes and riff feasts aplenty. GRAND FEAST FOR VULTURES is as far from your 'Bonded By Blood' or 'Angel of Death' 4-minute headbanger - the songs take their time to develop, and the guitar interplay between Pete Evil and Dor Amazon is, at times, mouth-watering. The album is all the more spiced up with some uninhibited Gothenburg style guitar-play, especially on the first half of the CD, bringing to mind Carcass and Arch Enemy at the very least.
But the most surprising thing about GRAND FEAST FOR VULTURES is its incorporation of heavy metal and old-school NWOBHM sensibilities of melody and harmony. There are so many blatant nods towards Iron Maiden, Fates Warning and Manilla Road that it's hard to classify this as even 'melodic thrash'. The last two tracks especially show the Iron Maiden/Manilla Road desire to be as epic and as expansive as their imaginations will allow ' 'Horsehead Nebula' is a 12 minute instrumental that brings to mind 'Call of Ktulu', 'Orion', 'The Ultra-Violence' and other wonderful epic instrumentals, while the 10-minute album-ending 'One Step Closer To the Grave' rages, headbangs and then takes 5 minutes towards the end to have a little 'Freebird'-style jam. It's wonderful that a band has the absolute balls to call themselves thrash, pay homage to the founding fathers and central tenets of the genre, and yet grasp the opportunity to bring into play all their own favourites and influences, no matter how far removed from 'thrash' they may be.
This is a great album, a milestone in modern thrash, and this is what we want to see. The Earache roster of Eviles, Municipal Wastes, Gama Bombs et al are fine for what they are, but it's bands like Blood Tsunami and labels like Candlelight who should be taking the credit for some of the best modern melodic thrash these days. And I haven't even mentioned the awesome drumming of Faust in this review yet.