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Downfall – Passive Regression

Passive Regression
by Max Elias at 28 March 2021, 4:21 PM

DOWNFALL play hard-charging, skull-shredding Death/Thrash Metal (they are listed as Crossover Thrash Metal, but I think Death/Thrash suits them more) defined by pounding riffs and hazy production that results in metal that batters with abandon rather than slices with precision. The band always keeps the energy up with sprightly rhythms and tense breakdowns. The percussive quality of the riffing serves up a furious volley of sonic punches to the gut, inducing neck-cracking headbangs left and right.

The reason Death/Thrash feels like a more appropriate label to me than Crossover Thrash is the vocals. They are barked out in a gravely, hoarse ululation that contains more despair than hardcore punk anger. And in contrast to the often guitar-driven nature of Crossover Thrash, the drums mostly overshadow the guitars, folding cutting riffs into the general tapestry of noise and power created by the rest of the music. There are some exceptions, like the breakdown riff on “Shattered” or chugging riff halfway through “Dam”; but emphasis is usually on madcap, frenzied drum work.

One of the more melodic songs on the album, at least in the beginning, is “Spiritual Extirpation”. It starts with a very thrashy riff and shifts into a singing tremolo-picked melodeath riff before as-always howling vocals kick in. “Spiritual Extirpation” also packs in a lot of lead guitar for a 3 and a half minute long song; there are two short solos and a sort of ringing afterimage that isn’t quite a harmony but isn’t a straight-ahead riff either leading back into the song after the second solo.

That doesn’t mean “Spiritual Extirpation” is anywhere as melodic as say “Master of Puppets”; if melody is important to you in your thrash metal, don’t listen to DOWNFALL. The riffing is a relentless assailment on the senses and lead guitar breaks are chiefly composed of screeching bends and whammy bar shenanigans.

To close out the album, DOWNFALL return (as if they ever left) to their bombastic, unhinged roots and deliver stomping Thrash Metal like it’s their last chance to play instruments. After the futuristic grinding sound effect intro to “By-Products”, the band wastes no time grinding the listener into dust, or at least sending them to the hospital to treat their bleeding ears. The impassioned chugging breakdown, firing off what sounds like 1,000 notes a minute, hits particularly hard. Even during the higher tremolo picked ending of “FPE”, the brutality is maintained by steadfastly earth-shattering vocals.

If one word describes this album, it’s ‘noisy’. This is not the kind of metal you listen to to feel uplifted and it’s not even the kind of metal you listen to at the gym. This mass of perfidiously obscene aural battery is the soundtrack to a killing spree. It isn’t even worth delving into the songs individually as they all smash and dismember with the same unsubtle drive and might as well be a single continuous mass of sound. I’m self-aware enough to say that even though the music is outside my preference, DOWNFALL have put forth a decent representation of the overly brutal side of Thrash Metal, and depending where your proclivities lie, it might be worth a listen.

Songwriting: 6
Originality: 7
Musicianship: 6
Production: 7

3 Star Rating

1. Signal 2.2.4
2. Deadlock
3.Forced Shelter
4. Deliverance
5. Shattered
6. Spiritual Extirpation
7. Scars of Rebirth
8. Dam
9. Progressive Decline
10. By-Products
11. FBE
12. Terminal
Francesco Ragnetti – Guitars
Federico Natalini – Bass, Vocals
Simone Medori – Drums
Matteo Luconi – Guitars
Record Label: Independent


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Edited 18 April 2021

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