Album Review: 4Arm – Survivalist

a3211589309_2Sometimes you just need to listen to a good bit of thrash. There are plenty of bands to turn to, but one of the latest releases in the thrash world from 4Arm (their new album, Survivalist, is out now) is meeting my thrash quota nicely.

You’ll notice that the opening number, Eyes of the Slain, is about seven and a half minutes long which is unusual for a thrash album. Usually we get a two minute clean number before thrash time, or it’s thrash time from the word go. Instead, 4Arm decide to build up to the kick in moment with a NWOBHM laden harmonised guitar and drums section. Then it’s thrash time.

There seem to be a couple of distinct thrash guitar types at the moment. 1) Fiddly, quick riffs, 2) Open E, play fast as all holy fuck. 4arm go with option 1 and the release is all the better for it. It’s evident from the start of the heavy section in Eyes of the Slain onwards. The full speed thrash riffs like in Poisoned Mind to the grooves in songs like Poverty of Flesh (and the excellent guitar harmonies midway through) are all interesting and that really is the keyword. How often do you get bored of hearing recycled riffs? This is new and it’s interesting.

In fact, everything is interesting to listen to; it’s not a flat sound by any means. There are some bands you feel like you could enjoy the drums on their own, you can’t help get that impression here. They’re used as them musical instrument they are.

Going further down this “interesting” path, the song writing is worthy of note. Every track has at least a few different things going on, and each track is separate from the last. There’s no feeling of getting locked into one sound. There are bouncy grooves, slow dramatic builds, all out attacks, chuggy riffs, melodic passages, it covers a broad spectrum often ignored in modern thrash.

You know these songs will go down well live. I’ve only had the chance to see the band once, back at Download in 2012, but if that show was anything to go by, these tracks will transfer very well to the live setting. With the tracks varying in tempo, you only need to listen to the opening track for evidence, there are bound to be some of the always entertaining moments when someone ends up mid headbang in a sudden soft section and has to find the tempo again.

The vocals should also be mentioned. There is a certain Hetfield tone in some of the songs, the title track in particular bears some resemblance to Black Album era Hetfield, yet though Markus Johansson has the ability to sound him, he doesn’t attempt to clone him with every passing line. Another selling point for those of you who prefer a clean thrash tone opposed to the raspy Teutonic Thrash style.

All in all, a solid release from a solid band. Thrash fans, yet another album for you to buy!

Survivalist is out now, you can listen and buy it via Bandcamp here

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