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Fatal Embrace - Operation Genocide

Fatal Embrace
Operation Genocide
by Max Elias at 10 September 2019, 11:10 PM

There are a lot of songs here, which is good news for anyone who like their Thrash Metal. FATAL EMBRACE have been doing their thing since the 90s, putting out lesser-known but still impressive Teutonic Thrash attacks in the vein of KREATOR, DESTRUCTION, etc. This time around is no different. After a brief epic intro in the form of “Ripping the Sky”, the razorblade riffs of “Betray Your Heroes” come in. Pedal tone riffs and fast chugs get the heart pounding and head banging, while the drums set a frenzied pace. The vocals are deeper than other Teutonic bands and have a slight gang-chant quality to them, like they are reverberating. The closing few minutes feature two leads sandwiched around a verse; the soloing is halfway between Kirk Hammett and Mille Petrozza.

Slightly slower but every bit as mosh-worthy, “Skinned to be Alive” powers forward with a monster of an old-school Thrash riff. The chorus (which is just the title repeated a few times) is strangely catchy for thrash. The grinding stomp of the main riff makes it all the more impactful when the feel of the song shifts briefly into a more high-gear, sixteenth-note assault and then back again.

The fast and the heavy have been explored and done to death by previous FATAL EMBRACE albums, but they are also capable of foraying into epic territory. With “Your Spiritual Quest”, a slower intro blossoms into a galloping, strident slab of Teutonized Classic Metal, complete with a short clean break around two and a half minutes in. Incidentally, the riff that follows sounds like an experiment with Melodic Death Metal. Their proclivity for the grandiose shows up again on “Criminal Scum”, which starts with a soaring, simple melody over tribal pounding grooves. The riffs are staccato and stomping, provoking listeners into giving themselves whiplash. Melody is a big part of this song, with the intro melody reappearing several times throughout, and the solo being far more restrained compared to lead breaks elsewhere on the album.

The German obsession with earsplitting speed comes back on “Let the Evil Flow”, which boasts riffs similar to something you could find on a SUICIDAL ANGELS album (and yes, the inspiration probably goes the other way around, but it goes to show how modern thrash feeds off itself). The harmonized pedal-tone riffs are like something Steve Harris might have come up with where he writing a Thrash album. These guys don’t have a use for making songs longer than they need to be; “Depravity” clocks in at not much more than 3 minutes, but wastes no time ripping through brutal riffs that sound at once familiar and fresh. Despite the brevity of the song, the solo is a high point of acrobatic scale runs and well-timed ‘guitar noises’. “Soulcrusher” is another roaring opus, broken up by a breakdown section building intensity for the solo, played more melodically than might be expected.

There will never be such a thing as a FATAL EMBRACE ‘ballad’, but “Forevermore” is a bit slower and lyrically about mourning the lost. The aggression is still there in the riffing as he sings about someday joining his lost love or friend (it’s not too clearly stated) in eternal death. It’s as much of an emotional baring of the soul we can expect given the style. The last song (for my purposes, I don’t need to review “Metal Thrashing Mad”, it’s an ANTHRAX cover and we all know how it sounds) is “Spawn of Plagues”, which would have been a fitting end to the album. It has a decent amount of space left in the guitars, soaring lead moments, thrashing drum work and animated vocal delivery. The choruses are call-and-response between guitar and vocals, lending the song an anthemic quality. “Spawn of Plagues” fades out on a repeated lick that melds into a symphonic cadenza.

FATAL EMBRACE is lesser known than their era’s stylistic counterparts, and as such have fewer offerings for listening pleasure, but that doesn’t diminish their quality. They are a perfect example of Thrash Metal done right, and done with more taste than many bands. I recommend this to anyone who is a fan of older Teutonic Thrash and wondering where the new carriers of the flame are (new being a relative term, but it is pretty hard to find their older albums). I’m looking forward to seeing what happens with them in the future.

Songwriting: 9
Originality: 7
Memorability: 8
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Ripping the Sky
2. Betray Your Heroes
3. Skinned to be Alive
4. Your Spiritual Quest
5. Let the Evil Flow
6. Depravity
7. Criminal Scum
8. The Soulcrusher
9. Forevermore
10. Spawn of Plagues
11. Metal Thrashing Mad
Dirk Heiland - Vocals
Ronald Schulze - Bass
Pulverizatör - Drums
Spezi - Guitars
Tobias - Guitars
Record Label: Iron Shield Records


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