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Fatal Embrace - "The Empires Of Inhumanity" (CD)

Fatal Embrace - "The Empires Of Inhumanity" CD cover image

"The Empires Of Inhumanity" track listing:

1. (Intro) The Last Prayer
2. Wake The Dead
3. Nothing To Regret
4. Haunting Metal
5. Another Rotten Life
6. Empires Of Inhumanity
7. Into Your Face
8. Rapture For Disaster
9. The Prophecy
10. Way To Immortality
11. Ravenous
12. Killers (bonus track)

Reviewed by on May 28, 2010

"...they chose to get back to the basics, taking the core principles of thrash and applying them well."

The thrash revival has already started to get pilloried by a jaded and cynical metal community, seemingly before it even took full flight. Fatal Embrace is a pretty good proxy for early 1980s thrash, particularly Slayer and Metallica, and has just as good a chance as any new thrash band of being run off the road for copycatting. This criticism would be unfounded, however, as “The Empires of Inhumanity” is has as much raw and rough quality as any early 1980s thrash tape.

Whether it is Fatal Embrace’s experience from 17 herky-jerky years leading to their second proper full-length, or just a knack for writing good thrash, this album rips. The first standout is “Nothing to Regret” as guitarists Moloch and Spezi pair up to pound out speedy and dexterous riffs and leads, all under Heilander’s gruff shout.

“Haunting Metal” is the first direct homage to the forefathers, being a cross between Metallica’s “Whiplash” and “No Remorse,” but somehow it manages to entertain nonetheless with its gang vocal choruses and fist-in-the-air crescendos. Moloch and Spezi don’t have the wailing abandon of Kirk Hammett or Kerry King, but they do a pretty good Hetfield impression. “Another Rotten Life” also borrows quite heavily from “Kill ‘Em All,” as do many riffs and chord progressions throughout “The Empires of Inhumanity.”

The Slayer quality is most from Heilander’s vocals, as it is pretty close to Araya’s barks and shrieks. But unfortunately Heilander is also the weakest and most inconsistent member of the band. Sometimes his delivery is quite strong, as the layered vocals on the title track really give that sense of doom and destruction he is undoubtedly going for. But other times he is just yelling, with no apparent feel for being part of a larger group, as on the “Way to Immortality.”

So if Fatal Embrace rips off the early years of some of thrash metal’s greatest bands, why is “The Empires of Inhumanity” better than terrible? Quite simply, they pick all the best pieces to copy. Metallica’s tempo changes leading into solos are here in spades, the speed-punk riffs of Slayer form the base of a number of songs, and even some of Testament’s groove finds its way into forgotten corners of the album (See “The Prophecy” for a good example). They also know to keep the songs brief, as only three cuts are over five minutes, and one of those is the ably-handled Iron Maiden cover and album closer “Killers.” This brevity allows Fatal Embrace to complete brief stints in each temple of thrash worship without lingering and getting blatantly repetitive.

The press kit lists a number of tours and bands that Fatal Embrace has been out with, but despite all that personal contact they chose to get back to the basics, taking the core principles of thrash and applying them well. Fast riffs, screams and yells, guitar solos galore and whack-a-mole drumming all combine for a thrash mess. Despite being a mess made and cleaned up many times before, “The Empires of Inhumanity” is one we’ll be happy to do again.

Highs: The dual-guitar bridges and guitar solos provide some of the best head-banging moments.

Lows: Heilander’s vocals are hit and miss.

Bottom line: These thrash revivalists are actually 17 year vets and sound like it.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 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)