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Alcotopia – It Hits The Spot Award winner

Alcotopia
It Hits The Spot
by Max Elias at 05 May 2019, 3:00 PM

ALCOTOPIA are a new arrival on the thrash scene from Lithuania, and they remind me a little of a more bludgeoning version of Eruption, who are also Eastern European. From the start they make their claim to the territory of intense but comprehensible extreme metal; there are hints of melody that survive the madness. I think a key distinguisher in their music is the vocalist, because he doesn’t bark or growl entirely, but delivers his lyrics with slightly restrained fury. It’s as if he has the voice of the guy from Woslom and the delivery of the woman fronting Mortillery; or to put it another way, he’s a gruffer, somewhat less-talented Mark Osegueda. In terms of the actual music—I like it. I like it very much, because it combines slicker production and higher technical standards with the speed metal anger of bands like OVERKILL or RAZOR. "Armageddon", as the album opener, might be a little long for me but has some nice riffs. Personally I think they should have opened with the next song, "Faceless Man". Oh my god are the riffs crushing on that; plus the occasional ‘Maiden on amphetamines’ guitar lines show that this isn’t a one-dimensional band. My favorite thrash is stuff where you feel like everyone in the band is doing the best they can not to boil over with rage, and contain themselves for clarity’s sake, which is how I’d definitely describe this album. ‘Dr. Waclow’ boasts an impressively eerie harmonic-laden verse riff that retains this band’s characteristic brutality. It does slow down a little about 2/3rds of the way through for a small interlude—still with lots of gain of the guitars, which is interesting—but picks right back up again with a skull-splitting precision assault.

‘Asylum of the Damned’ introduces itself with brisk gallops, and then settles into a frenetic Suicidal Angels-type pedal tone riff and it is a lost cause trying not to headbang through the mayhem. When everything cuts out briefly for the vocalist to whisper-speak and then roars back in, it’s like those few seconds of shred in ‘Holy Wars’ that define the tone so well. The most audible the vocals ever get is on ‘Insanity for Sale’, the intro of which features them without anyone else in the band. Even though the subject matter is grim, he sounds almost upbeat here, giving the song the addictive ‘let’s all rage’ quality (Toxic Waltz, anyone?) that made bands like Exodus so much fun. And I’m not sure what ‘F.Y.E.S’ stands for, but I don’t really care, it’s a great song. A lot of the riffs in it are probably similar to ones they wrote before, but everything has such a bounce to it (which holds for the album as a whole) that it feels fresh. It also fades out with ominous chords rather than driving force, which is new for them.

In terms of leads, there’s nothing overwhelming to say. They fit, which is always what’s important, but I’m not blown away like I am whenever Marty Friedman plays, for example. Then again, one wonders whether too much virtuosity would actually hurt the picture these guys are painting; the word of the day in thrash/speed metal is energy after all. I definitely think this is a band where I’m more impressed by the quality and ingenuity of the riffs than by the soloing, as with the opening of ‘Mountain King’, which is amazing. And then, because thrash always has this buried somewhere, the album closes with the tongue-in-cheek ‘More Beer’, defined by incessant chanting for… you guessed it, more beer. But like the rest of the album the music is good, so if they want to have a little fun after being so serious for 9 songs, who am I to stop them? I can honestly say I loved hearing this, especially as a debut, and I hope the band can keep this up in the future.

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

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Armageddon
2. Faceless Man
3. Dr. Waclow
4. Asylum of the Damned
5. Insanity for Sale
6. F.Y.E.S
7. Persecutor
8. Mountain King
9. Alcotopia
10. More Beer
Lineup:
Laurynas Karka - Vocals
Juozapas Bočkus - Guitar
Tomas Ivanovas - Bass
Dimitrijus Matvejevas - Drums
Record Label: Narcoleptica Productions
     


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Edited 22 May 2019
 

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