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Assaulter - "Salvation Like Destruction" (CD)

Assaulter - "Salvation Like Destruction" CD cover image

"Salvation Like Destruction" track listing:

1. Talon and Teeth (5:03)
2. The Axiom Star (4:52)
3. Glory Alone (6:15)
4. Proselytizer (5:25)
5. Awe of Fire (5:38)
6. Vengeance Whips (5:13)
7. Between Gods and Men (7:35)

Reviewed by on September 21, 2009

"Assaulter has the nonstop blistering guitar work that makes thrash famous, and also throws in extra abrasive growls to ratchet the aggression up to a new level."

There’s a new Australian thrash kid on the block, and the name says it all. Assaulter has the nonstop blistering guitar work that makes thrash famous, and also throws in extra abrasive growls to ratchet the aggression up to a new level. The term “blackened thrash” has been tossed around to describe Assaulter, but it isn’t an entirely accurate label. “Salvation Like Destruction” is a thrash album first and foremost. There just happens to be vocals that lean more towards the black side, although the music itself lacks most of the trappings of black metal.

The first 45 seconds of opening track “Talon and Teeth” will immediately separate out who will love the album and who will wish they had passed. Heavy feedback leads into an intense assault on the senses that rapidly picks up speed and tries to outpace the pounding drums. Vocalist Berserker brings in his throaty growls, belting out a sound akin to what some of the ‘80s thrash legends would have created if they had taken their vocals to a more guttural level.

When the guitars take a moment to relax the major problem of the album comes clearly into focus. The production on “Salvation Like Destruction” is absurdly low quality. Their influences from the early days of thrash apparently extend all the way into the production, as the music alternates between being muted and tinny. The drum work is generally rather muffled, which makes them into an irritating annoyance from time to time when the drummer keeps up the same beat without variation throughout several songs.

As the muted and dirty guitars combine with the grungy drum work, the album becomes a foul and polluting presence that assault’s the listener’s ears. Some people are going to love that sound, but anyone who wants clear production will be disappointed. The songs do have enough presence and force to grow on the audience, however, so if a listener is willing to spin the disc multiple times, the bad production becomes less of an issue as the sounds separate themselves out.

The track “Vengeance Whips” transcends the oppressingly muted production and provides a head banging good time through sheer force of guitar play. There is an undeniable energy to the song that makes the blazing riffs worth hearing despite the poor sound quality. Fans of Evile will feel especially at home, as it strongly brings to mind their iconic track “Thrasher.” The album takes a rest from the high speed thrashing on the final song “Between Gods and Men.” A more mid-paced approach is taken, which lets the vocals take center stage as the guitars fade into backing support work. Some of the vocalist’s range becomes more apparent on the track as well as his screams take on a much heavier and raspy tone.

For a lot of metal enthusiasts “Salvation Like Destruction” may be an album that arrived 30 years too late. Fans of ‘80s era thrash who wanted more black metal styled vocals will absolutely love it, but the horrible production takes its appeal down a notch. Anyone willing to put in some effort and wade through the dirty sound will find plenty of iconic thrash riffs to keep them banging their heads, devils horns held high.

Highs: Iconic thrash sound, black metal style vocals.

Lows: Absolutely horrendous production, some of the drumming is too repetitive.

Bottom line: Fans of thrash who want more abrasive vocals will love this album. Anyone who needs decent production should steer clear, however.

Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls
2.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
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)