Sunday, January 25, 2009

Thanatos: The Burning of Sodom/...And Jesus Wept

This is an extremely short vinyl 7" EP, but Thanatos really makes the most of its less-than-10 minute running time. I had first heard of Thanatos when reading an article about the Hail of Bullets album featuring Martin Van Drunen of Pestilence and Asphyx fame and the twin guitar attack of Stephen Gebedil and Paul Baayens from this band as well as former bassist Theo Van Eekelen. As I was impressed with that release, I decided to check out the backing band Thanatos an I am very glad that I did. This was the first release I came across.

Thanatos kicks things off with a blazing cover of the Dark Angel classic "The Burning of Sodom" off of Darkness Descends. Thanatos's version is faster and more intense than the Dark Angel version if that can be believed. Rarely does a cover match the original, but this comes close. The vocals are the main difference between the two versions with Thanatos vocalist Stephan Gebedi providing more of a gruff roar compared to the thrashy vocals on the original. However, the vocals are a little buried underneath the frenetic musicians.

Obviously it's easy to come up with a great thrash metal song when you are mimicking an already established classic such as Dark Angel, but how does Thanatos do when crafting their own original material? Turns out pretty well. "...And Jesus Wept" is a re-recorded song off of their 1992 album Realm of Ecstacy. Thanatos is quite adept at burying the listener under mile-a-minute riffs and constant drum blasting in this song. The vocals have a little more in common with early death metal than thrash metal while the solos owe a bit to Slayer's extremely short blink-and-you-miss-them solos off of Reign in Blood. The song does occasionally slow down but continues on with the punishing riffs.

The record is pressed on red vinyl making for an attractive collector's item. I just wish there was a little more information about the band in the packaging. I found this to be a pretty good introduction to a band I was unfamiliar with, but people who already know of the band should probably stick to their full length albums. This is for the completist collectors out there more than anything. I will be looking out for some of Thanatos's other material though.

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