Album review: Fueled By Fire - "Trapped in Perdition"

Our friends at wikipedia define thrash metal this way; "Thrash metal generally features fast tempos, low-register, complex guitar riffs, high-register guitar solos and double bass drumming. Vocally, thrash metal can employ anything from melodic singing to shouted vocals. Most thrash guitar solos are played at high speed, as they are usually characterized by shredding". I'd like to add another entry - See: "Fueled By Fire".

"Trapped in Perdition" is the newest release from "Fueled By Fire" on Noiseart Records and it pays serious homage to the thrash bands of old without becoming a tribute band. I hesitate to use the phrase "old school" while describing "Fueled By Fire" but if old school thrash is your cup of tea then this is your band.

Upon listening, it brought me back to a time when metal was black leather, spikes, sweat and a patch of your favorite band on the back of your jean jacket. "Trapped in Perdition" doesn't miss a trick. You'll find all your old friends here... machine-gun guitar riffs, double bass break-downs and smoldering vocals. Blistering leads and crunchy rhythms abound. The themes are familiar; annihilation, anger, despair and death. Everything you're looking for in a thrash album.

We start off with "Catastrophe" and are immediately transported to a familiar place. Clearly there's more of a West-coast thrash influence here. Think early "Exodus", "Slayer" and "Testament" with a fuller sound. It's old school with a modern twist as "Fueled By Fire" brings their own unique style to the show. Here's a sample of some of the lyrics - "The aftermath the somber silence/ The dreams of man are swept away/ Ending all humanity/ Stricken by catastrophe". Classic thrash.

Lead guitarist Chris Monroy (also of "Skeletal Remains") and guitarist/vocalist Rick Rangel form some impossibly tight rhythms throughout the record and the leads on "Suffering Entities" are just awesome.

This album just keeps giving with cuts like "Forsaken Deity", "Profane Path" and "Pharmaceutical Extermination". Each song hits you like a shovel to the face and made me wish I had spent more time practicing scales on my guitar.

"Obliteration" is the fire with which this band is fueled and is one of my favorite tracks. Kudos to bassist Anthony Vasquez ("Sodomizing the Dead") for bringing the thump and some sweet bass break-downs to the party. Rangel's visceral screams and drummer Carlos Gutierrez's (formerly of "Sodomizing the Dead") blinding beats make this a song to wreck your neck; "Obliteration.. killing for God's salvation".

Following the rules of the thrash playbook, the next-to-last track, "Abeyant Future (Outro)", is the obligatory slow, brooding, metal instrumental (complete with demonic choir). A track like this lulls the listener into a moment of mellowness making the track which follows that much heavier. Such is the case with "Trapped in Perdition" , pausing just a moment before leading us into the final track "Depiction of Demise", a searing foray into all the things that make metal great. Ah, gang vocals, I wondered where you were.

Relentless is how I would describe this album. No frills, in your face thrash. Those looking for some music to chill out and relax to should look elsewhere. Suffering, anguish... these are the themes of "Trapped in Perdition".

"Fueled By Fire" is an incredibly competent band and do very well carrying the torch passed to them by the fathers of thrash. The music is technical and well executed. It's like taking a time machine back to the bay area in the '80's but with modern production values. "Fueled By Fire" is all about screaming guitars, fast drums, frenetic bass and aggressive vocals. And, in my case, it's just what the doctor ordered. I'll see you in the pit.

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