Fatal Embrace - Empires of Humanity (Metal Blade/Riot)

Veteran Germans long on talent but short on originality return for some more heads-down, no nonsense mindless boogie.

The trouble, of course, is that it’s all so derivative. Good, but derivative. Berlin thrashmeisters Fatal Embrace have been grimly forging their way in the world of heavy metal for seventeen years (that’s right, longer than a good many of you have been alive) and yet still they sound like nothing more than a tribute band – and I can’t decide whether that’s a good or bad thing.

The fact that they are tributing the glory years of thrash metal is clearly a good thing. Aided by up-to-the-minute production and recording techniques, their trip a la recherché du thrash perdu sounds great. If Slayer, Kreator and Sodom had sounded this good ‘back in the day’ there’s a fair chance you reviewer’s mind would have been blown by the sheer heaviness and crushing sound on offer. Whereas the three bands mentioned all came up with original, classic material, FE only piece together bits from their assembled oeuvres to create their own thrashscapes, and very soon the most entertaining thing you can do with this album is play ‘spot the excerpt’. Metallica circa Kill ‘Em All, the first Testament album and the first four Slayer albums all loom large in this game, with added smidgens of Megadeth and even a Dan Lilker bass run being thrown in to keep you on your toes.

There are some truly arresting moments present – Rapture for Disaster had your reviewer out of his seat, air guitaring and barking along to the gang vocals with glee – but overall an album that leaves you undecided whether it’s a serious, modern effort or merely a well executed nostalgia trip is probably not worth much of your time, much less your money. Con your mate who absolutely has to have everything he hears into getting it and then borrow it.


Fatal Embrace's Empires of Humanity is out now on Metal Blade/Riot.