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Acid Death – Primal Energies Award winner

Acid Death
Primal Energies
by Max Elias at 22 April 2019, 11:56 PM

ACID DEATH, perhaps one of the most unique progressive thrash acts to come out of Greece, emerged back in 1990 and after a couple demos and EPs, showcased their blend of technicality and structured riffing with aggression on their 1998 debut Pieces of Mankind. They disbanded in 2001 but have been back for some time, releasing Eidolon, Hall of Mirrors, and finally their 2019 album Primal Energies. This new offering is definitely true to what they’re know for, which is everything, sort of. Prior albums like Random’s Manifest had some of the most interesting, but also strangest, things you would hear on what was still essentially a thrash record. This time around the Greeks have opted to bury listeners in riffs, such as on “My Bloody Crown” where ideas blend and flow from each other so naturally as to go by unnoticed, only for it to strike you that you’ve been listening to the same song for the past 6 minutes or so. The melodies on that track are also something to behold; at once ominous and technical, it’s plain to see what drew followers of Acid Death to the band, especially for the more guitar-oriented. None of this songcraft sacrifices the heaviness that I would argue is the essence of any subgenre—“The Rope” for example, shows that they can still write muscular riffs (albeit still woven in with proggier passages). Shorter songs like “Inner Demons” make their mark just as well, with riffing that spans the frets constantly but never feels like showboating, and frenetic drum work from Alexakis. “Godless Shrines” is characterized not only by energetic and original riffs, but by the fairly simple yet potent melody that begins and recurs throughout the song.

If the first few tracks didn’t sound particularly ‘prog’, the title track certainly does. The addictive snaky riff that introduces the song plays with time signatures before we are launched into a techy maelstrom of guitar-and-drum madness. The little cymbal crash right after the intro riff appears again into vocals is a perfect example of one of those tiny moments that somehow elevates a song. In classic prog-thrash fashion it then fades out to dissonant arpeggiation.

Fans of drumrolls will enjoy “Fire of the Insane”, as the drumming is in top form throughout. The fills are placed perfectly to accentuate without overshadowing what is happening underneath. No strangers to groove, Acid Death are masters at overlaying complexity on top of simplicity, as they do in “Reality and Fear”, a personal pick for a standout track. Very elemental drum work begins the song, which is soon joined by a driving riff, itself then compounded by twisting riffage. It seems to have everything a prog-thrash track should; even a clean interlude before more riffs, now punctuated by dreamy chord stabs. Overall if I were to choose a word to describe this album it would have to be RIFFS. They are on full display and immensely satisfying to hear as the band leaps from one to the other like expert gymnasts. It does take a few listens for things to stick in your head though, probably as a result of all those riffs.

Songwriting: 10
Originality: 9
Memorability: 8
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. My Bloody Crown
2. Inner Demons
3. Godless Shines
4. Primal Energies
5. The Rope
6. Fire of the Insane
7. Reality and Fear
8. Regret/Repent
9. The Void Before
10. H.U.M.A.N
Savvas Betinis – Bass, Vocals
Dennis Kostopoulos – Lead/Rhythm Guitars
John Anagnostu – Lead/Rhythm Guitars
Kostas Alexakis – Drums
Record Label: 7Hard Records


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