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Fischel's Beast - "Commencement" (CD)

Fischel's Beast - "Commencement" CD cover image

"Commencement" track listing:

1. Commencement (1:56)
2. Forbidden Territories (5:53)
3. The Phoenix (6:59)
4. One Man's Cry (7:07)
5. Fate Of Kings (6:33)
6. Where Am I (6:03)

Reviewed by on September 14, 2010

"'Commencement' instantly put me in mind of Metallica's 'And Justice For All' days."

There once was a band named Sentinel Beast that made it their mission to pay homage to the traditional thrash metal bands of the 80's. One promising album (see our "Depths Of Death" review) and some openings for acts like Slayer brought an abrupt end to this mission, until guitarist Barry Fischel took the helm and reorganized the band in 2009, changing the name to Fischel's Beast.

What's interesting about Fischel's Beast is that they actually had some material left over from the planned second Sentinel Beast album that never came to fruition. Rather than be wasteful, Fischel handed things over to new vocalist Anthony Cross and let him write his own lyrics, in some cases even replacing ones that had already been written by Sentinel Beast vocalist Debbie Gunn. The result? Considering Sentinel Beast regrouped earlier this year (not the same members as Fischel's Beast, who are still active), and are actually performing some of the same songs, I'd say Fischel's Beast wins this battle of the bands so to speak.

Fischel's Beast's "Commencement" is a great tribute to early thrash. They amp up the tempo a bit compared to traditional thrash in tracks like "One Man’s Cry," which is probably the weakest track on the album. Still, "Commencement" instantly put me in mind of Metallica's "And Justice For All" days. Cross' vocals are pleasant but not too pretty, the speed is mid-tempo, with the traditional harsh breaks from chorus to breakdown, and the lyrics are mostly dark but solid.

Listening to the first three tracks of this six track album, I planned to give "Commencement" a four-skull rating, but unfortunately the second half doesn’t live up to its expectations. That's not to say it isn't good, but "One Man’s Cry," "Fate Of Kings," and "Where Am I" are all tunes that lean more toward power metal, with occasionally rushed vocals, lengthier compositions, and sometimes are just plain tedious. In fact, the first 2 ½ minutes of "Fate Of Kings" could have been cut out, and probably would have resulted in a better song. The instrumental section is pretty good, but then the song ends on the same sour note as the beginning.

Still, "Commencement" is a mostly good album that is a comfortable fit for fans of the Big Four. It isn't showy, it isn't dramatic, but it is solid, chugging, traditional thrash metal. Barry Fischel has managed to, like the title of his song, rise from the ashes like a phoenix, and with Fischel’s Beast has created something better than the original.

Highs: Solid old school thrash with great lyrics.

Lows: Last half of the album has a tendency to become tedious as the songs are dragged out too long.

Bottom line: A mostly promising debut that will appeal to fans of early thrash.

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)