Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Tornado - Fire At Will (2010)

The country of Greece has become a hotbed for revival thrash of late, which is interesting as the place was not exactly overflowing with the stuff in the mid to late 80s when it most mattered, though Flames were a fine band in their prime. In recent years, we've got groups like Revenge, Suicidal Angels, and Released Anger taking up the mantle, and that last bears specific importance to the Tornado, because they share a couple of members in guitarist Giannis Anagnostou and drummer Stelios Staropoulos. I'm not going to stake a claim that Tornado are doing anything else but livening up the last with their debut Fire at Will, but for what it's worth I honestly enjoyed their riffing smackdown more so than many of the retro vandals in these past 5 years, who have done nothing but take a squat on the lawn of better days.

To begin, Tornado does not come firing a bunch of song titles about thrashing you, thrashing your mother's face off, thrashing your dog with beer, or thrashing your sister's panties drawer. This is bare bones, raging material which desires nothing else than to be accepted as one of the many great releases of decades past, with some honest writing. They let the music do the talking, and the listener do the rocking, as opposed to simple party animal immaturity. The sounds I am most reminded are of the German scene in the mid to late 80s, perhaps a bit of 90s. I speak of Tankard, Vendetta, and their ilk. This is largely captured through the vocals of Thanassis, whose heavy accent and near-nasal flare keep them engaging and entertaining like so many Teutonic influences. The riffing is a mix of this style and some fun, California thrash ala Megadeth, with perhaps a dash of Exodus.

Normally a band doesn't get away with a 4:00 intro on a thrash album, in particular an instrumental which is composed largely of thrash riffs and a handful of leads. Granted, "Wave of Fury" might have worked a little more with vocals in effect, but it still remains a worthy head thrashing exercise, and when it bursts into the band's namesake "Tornado", with a nice little fill-lick in the verse, all possible complaints are flushed down the drain. "Send to the Land" is even better, an album that might have fit right at home on one of Vendetta's 80s records like Brain Damage; and "Where I Dream" throws in a nice, flowing NWOBHM riff somewhere between Venom and the earlier work of Metallica or Megadeth. Another thrash-umental "Smashing the Chains" heralds another of the album's best pieces, the reckless and ruthless "Human Race" which feels like a mix of early Tankard and a bludgeoning, primate alternative to Rust in Piece riffing ("Five Magics", "Holy Wars"). Ditto for "The Big Chess...Republic Terror" and the aggressive title track.

The album is given a nice, punchy mix which makes each six string volley present and in your face with the boxing gloves off. The leads are functional, but perhaps there are too many songs here of an instrumental nature: lyrics would have improved "Wave of Fury", and "Countdown to Demise" could have been left out or just attached to another song. The vocals aren't always on fire, sometimes they feel a little choked or subdued, but in other spot they rage. In the end, though, Fire At Will is not just some wannabe teen heckler choking on its own exhaust fumes, but a fun and energetic tribute to a brighter age, where the idea of thundering thrash metal was not cause for scoffing. In fact, this is probably one of the best Greek thrash albums I've heard yet outside of the 80s. There's room for improvement, but they've clearly go the part about banging your head down.

Verdict: Win [7.5/10]

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