Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Arakain - Thrash the Trash (1990)

If a band today released an album called Thrash the Trash, it would be seen as a novelty at best by that Fraternity-like subculture who would rather revel in thrash metal mockery than expound upon its passionate, punishing potential; or as steaming fecal caricature by those with an authentic love for the genre. But back in 1990, from a country in which English was not the primary language, some leeway can and should be afforded, as cheesy at it remains in retrospect. Arakain are perhaps the best known band of this sort from their native Czech Republic, yet still pitifully unknown beyond those bounds, despite nearly 30 years of existence and full-length output well into the double digits. So it's the least I could do to help highlight what might damn well remain the best effort of their career.

Now, naturally, as a cultural dead end, I do not speak the Czech language and therefor cannot necessarily comment on the effectiveness of these lyrics (even the English-titled tunes), but what I can say is that the voice of Aleš Brichta is something to experience! He's got a dense delivery with a wavering and smokey appeal to it that feels pretty unique as he's catapulting about the various melodies that drive the rhythm guitars into frenzy. If I had to compare him to anyone, it would probably be Fleming Ronsdorf of Artillery (in their prime), or perhaps a less sharp Glenn Hansen of Whiplash (Insult to Injury). That said, the syllabic hammering he metes out here has an almost speed/power metal aesthetic to it borne more of Grave Digger or early Running Wild than the Bay Area bark of an Araya or Hetfield, or the sadistic sneer of the closer German scene in Schmier or Mille. But it's this very voice, and its interaction with the thick and boxy chugging variation of the axes that makes Thrash the Trash such a success.

Like many of the better artists in this field, Arakain were (and remain) well versed in the hook, line sinker approach of composition. Not only do they formulate potent, pounding rhythms for the verses, but the choruses are almost always an elevation to the momentum. "Thrash the Trash" itself is a shocker, charging along with confidence as soon as the unnecessary (but brief) swing intro subsides, and it immediately hooks the listener into the experience. The thick, dirty speed metal muting present in "Šakal", "Štvanice" and " 311.Peruť " definitely recalls what I so loved about 80s German thrash, or the first two efforts from Artillery. Meaty, fulfilling and incessantly chopping away like the band's very lives depended on it. With already close a decade under their collective belts, it's not so much a surprise that the band performed with such skill on their inevitable studio full-length, but this goes above and beyond the mere call of duty, and both the leads and rhythms are efficiently executed to provide a good balance of tempos.

The band also wisely avoid throwing their debut to the wolves by the placement of some shitty, mandatory ballad or goof track to showcase their 'good nature' and 'diversity'. Yes, there is the brief classical guitar interlude "Noc", but it's quite nice, and only just under a minute of plausible distraction before the great "Amadeus" closes the record. In summation, Thrash the Trash is a straight shooter the whole way through, a reliable if rusted piece of siege weaponry that will have heads banging and fists thrusting throughout its 40 minute life. The production still feels loud and clamorous to this day, placing it well within that Teutonic field of the mid to late 80s, with the vocals up front but the riffs wholly present and punchy. If you are yourself a freak for those formative years of Tankard, Destruction, Holy Moses, Sodom, Vendetta and the like, this is totally worth the trouble to track down, and had it not been for the language barrier, Arakain might have developed a wider following. To be frank, though, I would rather hear this in its native tongue than any other.

Verdict: Win [8.25/10]


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