Monday, October 12, 2009

Staryi Sklep - Bez kozhi (2009)

I won't pretend to know Russian. But if I did, I might derive even more enjoyment from the sophomore effort of Staryi Sklep ('Old Vault'). As it stands, the album speaks another language to me: the language of the riff. Provided you aren't a poseur, you also speak this tongue.

Yes, Bez kozhi is an album full of old school thrashing energy, with a good mix of 80s Germanic and Californian influences. The tracks range from the fun and simple ("Paskudstvo" and "Zatknis'"), to the faster and intense ("Koronaciya duha" and "Nezrimyi vrag"), to the epic, plodding 9-minute title track. The material is certainly mosh fueled enough to get any band of 80s refugees with hi-top sneakers and cut-off denim jackets doing the circle mosh, in particular the slower thrashing rhythms which recall Anthrax, Exodus, or S.O.D. But there is an inject of mild technicality to some of the riffing which can also summon some Destruction or Kreator.

The album also has a brazen, high quality production which is like an update for 80s thrash metal. All the instruments are insanely well balanced, from the popping drums to the thick bass as it creates the foundation for the thick yet crisp guitars. The leads are good if sloppy. Though I can't understand what Alexander Sorokin is barking, he does so in a forceful, manly voice that serves as additional percussion. Bez kozhi may not be at the level of a classic thrash album, though it sounds the part. The riffs are uniformly decent but not the kind you'll be visiting forever. Still, this is some of the better Russian thrash metal I've ever heard: aggressive and well versed in its influence. It also has a sense of humor.

Verdict: Win [7/10]

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