Arma Gathas - Dead To This World (Metal Blade/Riot)

Hardcore meets thrash again? Does this still work? Did it ever?

The slow, melodic Antagonist gently opens the door to Dead To This World before The Rise and Fall gets the party started with more than a slight similarity to the intro of Hatebreed's Defeatist - in fact, the Hatebreed comparisons can be applied to a fair chunk of this album; the chorus of Losing Hope sounds like a blood relative of Conceived Through an Act of Violence from Hatebreed's 1997 breakthrough Satisfaction Is The Death Of Desire.

There is a lot of bollocks about 'creative visions' and 'realising potentials' from Metal Blade surrounding this album, but let's put our cards on the table folks: this is quite simply a hardcore album with thrash leanings. And that's no bad thing. Fair enough, Hatebreed and Throwdown have received a bit of a kicking of late from the hardcore fanbase, and the music press in general, due to the abandonment of the traditional hardcore sound in favour of a more unit-shifting thrash tempo. Rightly so in the case of Throwdown's most recent album of Pantera B-sides, Deathless.

But there is something simplistically pure about Arma Gathas' debut. Vocalist Che Snelting has an extremely commercial voice - Jamey Jasta/Dave Peters/Rob Flynn/Randy Blythe, and so on. The guitar work is solid from band founder Simon Fulleman and Marc Niedersberg and it's difficult not to be impressed by the pounding drums of twenty-year old Max van Winkelhof

Songs such as Depopulation and Generation Doom have obvious sing-along qualities and sound a bit lazy, but with 'three instrumental tracks' - technically two, as Protagonist has someone talking over the top - the simple nature Dead To The World doesn't mean it's boring. If anything, it's the exact opposite.

It's incredibley easy to get caught up in this album. At a little over 36 minutes and 13 songs in length, the intensity is quite fucking ace. Album closer Our Final Breath - Our Last Goodbye is a truly excellent climax, with a slightly contrived piano and strings outro that just happens to work exceptionally well.

Say what you will about 'sound-alike' bands, but to my mind, any band that has a debut with the raw fury of mid-90s hardcore and the searing riffs of the thrash faithful is alright by me. It may not have the arse-puckering aggression of the bands mentioned, but it'll make you want to crack some skulls, that's for sure.

Dead To This World is out now on Metal Blade/Riot.