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Blood Tsunami - "Grand Feast For Vultures" (CD)

Blood Tsunami - "Grand Feast For Vultures" CD cover image

"Grand Feast For Vultures" track listing:

1. Castle Of Skulls (5:02)
2. Grand Feast For Vultures (3:14)
3. Personal Exorcism (8:23)
4. Nothing But Contempt (5:05)
5. Laid To Waste (6:48)
6. Eceladus Rising (12:31)
7. One Step Closer To The Grave (10:17)

Reviewed by on June 5, 2009

"'While Blood Tsunami could fire on all cylinders the entire running length, with nary a break in sight, the band pushes themselves as musicians, not content to just blasting out mindless thrash metal.'"

Norwegian thrash metal band Blood Tsunami is a force of nature that most metal fans may not be prepared for, as evident by their sophomore album “Grand Feast For Vultures.” Featuring former Emperor drummer Faust in its ranks, the foursome released a fantastic debut in 2007, the aptly-titled “Thrash Metal,” that went largely unnoticed. With “Grand Feast For Vultures,” Blood Tsunami is making a strong case for themselves, shoving their melodic, yet aggressive, sound into our faces and forcing us to slurp down every single last morsel. The band has a commanding presence that can’t be ignored and their songwriting is more complex than meets the eye.

Throughout the seven tracks on “Grand Feast For Vultures,” the band shows a progressive side to them that was only hinted at on “Thrash Metal.” While there was a ten-minute instrumental on their debut album, most of the other tracks were within a reasonable three-to-five minute range. This is far from the case on their sophomore album. With the exception of the scorching title track, not one track is under the five minute mark. While Blood Tsunami could fire on all cylinders the entire running length, with nary a break in sight, the band pushes themselves as musicians, not content just blasting out mindless thrash metal.

What sets Blood Tsunami apart from most of their contemporaries is the willingness to approach the genre from a melodic standpoint, adding in some flourishes of progressive/heavy metal. Most bands wouldn’t be caught dead putting a 12-minute instrumental next to a ten-minute epic, but Blood Tsunami does just that in the second half of “Grand Feast For Vultures.” A bold and daring approach to the ordinary, there are moments where the band hits all the right notes and sounds like they belong in the upper-tier of the genre, as well as moments where their drive and brash songwriting gets the better of them.

Opener “Castle Of Skulls” is an auspicious introduction, a hard-hitting first track that only provides a small hint to the power and complexity that Blood Tsunami puts on display throughout "Grand Feast For Vultures." The song is a wild thrasher, only slowing down near the middle, before an absolutely killer breakdown materializes. The vocals are harsh screams, unbearable pain spurting from a tortured soul, with lyrics of death and torment the battle cry to the outcasts and fractured minds of society. “Castle Of Skulls” leaves an impression, one that doesn’t fade away. Faust’s double bass work is spotless and the band itself is working like a well-oiled machine, all the parts doing their acquired tasks.

“Personal Exorcism” is a weighty number to get through, as the band slows the pace down and takes its time to build up steadily. A strong death metal vibe lingers in the air and the Iron Maiden worship is out in full force with harmonic leads by the end of the track. Guitarists Pete Evil and Dor Amazon bust out dueling solos like it is 1983 all over again, displaying a strong chemistry that is lacking from many modern-day guitar teams. This duo makes a memorable impression on the extended instrumental “Eceladus Rising," which takes up nearly ¼ of the running length of “Grand Feast For Vultures.” The track is a display of fantastic musicianship that, while a little overindulgent, is never boring, not even for a millisecond.

“Grand Feast For Vultures” goes out in style with “One Step Closer To The Grave,” a slow-burning gem that builds into a five-minute outro best described as a full-on jam session. Faust shows command of his kit with fills that provide a burst of energy, even when the guitars are calmly being plucked, and the lead work in the outro is stellar, a mish-mash of frantic shredding and soaring beauty.

Blood Tsunami shows a level of maturity with their sophomore album “Grand Feast For Vultures,” a riveting performance from all musicians involved. The production is solid, save for the inaudible bass, and the songs are evenly-paced. Some thrash fans will find the album to be too melodic or too heavy-handed, wanting more material in line with the speedy title track. Those are fair criticisms; Blood Tsunami definitely didn't make a straightforward thrash album. There were signs that great things were ahead for the band after their debut album and “Grand Feast For Vultures” proves that these signs were pointing in the right direction.

Highs: Great musicianship, Faust is a monster on the drum kit, songs have many dimensions to them that come across with repeated listens.

Lows: Meanders at certain points.

Bottom line: A great thrash album from a band not afraid to push themselves as musicians, breaking out of traditional thrash metal clichés.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)