I have always enjoyed albums where it is possible to discover unknown bands. The first I purchased was ‘Private Pleasures’ in 1978 which introduced me to then unknown band such as Dire Straits, City Boy, Graham Parker, Bethnal, British Lions and others. I was also the right age to get the Metal For Muthas albums, while the Metal Massacre compilations were invaluable. So when I saw this, I was not worried that I knew none of the bands featured, who each have three tracks, and instead took it as an opportunity. First up we have Pittsburgh-based thrash outfit Vicious Blade, who are fronted by Clarissa Badini, who is also recording with both Castrator and Tartarus. There is no doubt she is in control of this, switching her style from full on death growls all the way up which allows the band to express themselves in different ways. Although the music is fairly basic in its approach this is a band to keep an eye on, as it will be interesting to see how they develop with Clarissa. Indianapolis outfit Blasted Heath have already released a full album on Wise Blood, but none of these songs are taken from the album which came out last year. While Vicious Blade are approaching their thrash from a death metal angle, these guys have much more of a blackened approach which gives their music some nice atmosphere. They also mix up the tempo and attack and are consequently a very interesting band to listen to, especially as they have a tight complexity and an octopus for a drummer. 

Turning to the second side of the album, and we kick things off with New Jersey outfit The Gauntlet who released their debut full-length album at the beginning of the year. Unlike the others, this is not a band as such but instead is the work of just one man, Ace Meggido. The metal approach here is more basic, far more pedestrian with some black metal influences and some thrash here and there. This reminds me a lot of the sort of material I was listening to some 40+ years ago when NWOBHM was making its presence felt – there were some stunning bands coming out of the scene, but plenty of others which sounded as if they would never get past the demo stage and that is what we have here. Last band in Philadelphia-based Bastard Cröss who get the prize for the best band names as this was recorded by Blasphemous Axe, Heathen Chevalier, Beheader of Priests and Infernal Bastard. Federico Feu (Beheader) just can’t help himself as he is called Anestesiologo Marijuanero in another band, which is awesome. For all the strange names and attitude, these guys are actually serious players eith blackened thrash that has a lot going for it – complex and complicated, these guys really know what they are doing. Four bands, twelve tracks, I would happily listen to full albums from three of them which is a really good ratio indeed so why not give them a try?

By Kev Rowland