Reviewed: [June 2020]
Released [2020 Awakening Records]
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
Indian revivalists Amorphia do a more then credible job of capturing – if not outright re-creating – the sound and spirit of late ’80s thrash. And while “re-thrash” has been done to death over the last like 20 years as new bands struggled for new ideas and found channeling their idols a more convenient option, Amorphia focus more on vibe and character instead of specific sonic references. So there’s nothing distinctly “Bay Area” or “Teutonic” about it, it just sounds, well, “’80s”
Sure, you can get a hint of early Kreator, Nuclear Assault, Beneath The Remains-era Sepultura and Dark Angel in the gritty, technically proficient and mostly turbo-charged thrash on Merciless Strike – a title that, too, comes right out of, say, 1987, as does its Ed Repka-inspired cover art. But, again, it cuts a pretty wide swath and serves as more than a mere homage, as the eight tracks here also have plenty of original flavor and are delivered with gusto and purpose.
The album goes right for the throat with the hefty chug of “Death Zone” and keeps, well, chugging away throughout, while offering the standard tropes of war, horror and death from above, below and anywhere else on “Mutant’s Rise,” the super-hooky “Radiation Overdose,” “Upcoming Terror” and “Judgement Day.” The trio – frontman/guitarist Vasuchandran, bassist Faizan Mecci and drummer Vivek Prasad – are competent, confident songwriters and performers who have studied well in the school of thrash and have the chops to show for it.
The Merciless tunes are aggressive, tight and lively, and get a nice kick from a bold, very professional production job that captures the right balance of rawness and polish and delivers plenty of crunch. Indeed, in keeping with the throwback spirit, there is Scott Burns-like quality to the overall sound, which certainly isn’t the worst thing in the world.
Despite hailing from the relative isolation of Alappuzha in southwestern India, Amorphia have put together a winning package with their second album that can go toe-to-toe with anything of its ilk. Granted it doesn’t offer much in the way of newness – and never really aspires to. But Merciless Strike does provide plenty of retro thrills without relying on so many of the trappings that can make “re-thrash” so tedious and, in many cases, unnecessary.