Sledge – Vanquish
Sledge is a death/thrash metal outfit from Hyderabad, and this is their debut album Vanquish. I casually heard this album a few times before, but somehow postponed the review till I was in a bus with bollywood music suffocating me from all sides. Here it is, song by song.
1. Down – The first riff almost gives it a black metal feel. The second one kicks in, accentuating it. But then it jumps to thrash, and the transition is pretty smooth. Overall the song keeps alternating between a thrashy and a bm feel, with a death/thrash (near chromatic) solo. Nothing especially exciting going on in the vocals section, but the vocalist manages a nice growl which goes very well with the song. Nice, catchy song, but nothing especially memorable.
2. A Law To Kill – A song that starts off where the previous one left off, again with it’s share of catchy riffs. Though the solo is quite a different flavour altogether, with it’s buildup following a Middle-Eastern sounding scale. A few riffs remind one of Slayer.
3. Vanquish – A “sameness” with respect to the sound and the song structure has begin to set in. But around 1:40 my interest in the song resurges, since the bass “freshens” the song up, though it starts all over again.
4. Valley In Ruins – By now I realize one of the reasons why this album isn’t exactly blowing my mind. It’s the tempo. The riffs are good and br00tal, but for thrash I expected something…faster. And the riffs aren’t the crushing sort of riffs that go well with the tempo.
5. Theater Of War – Now this is better…this gets my head swaying a bit, the double bass is blasting away more prominently, and even the solo sounds more melodic than the previous solos, though the brief respite the guitarist takes in between the solo could’ve been avoided. The riff that comes around 2:40(and before a few times as well), simple, memorable and headbang-worthy.
6. Treachery Inc – This was the first Sledge song I’d heard quite some time back, so I was slightly more familiar with how this went. Probably the most melodic song till now, and again with a black metal feel, slightly reminiscient of melodic black metal bands such as Dissection in parts. But again most parts turn out to be pretty forgettable.
7. Despaired Thoughts – Nothing exceptional till the riff that kicks in at 1:00, sort of gets you into the song. The guitarist can really shred, it seems, but instead of having some continuity in his solos, he’s dispersed short shred parts, would’ve sounded killer had he pulled off antics like Kerry King and co., the breaks are too abrupt and leave one unsatisfied.
8. Controlled – The song title aptly describes the feel of this song…for it feels like controlled agression that they’re slowly trying to let it loose. Decent song, but again without many memorable moments.
9. Fate Of Innocence – A clean start to this one, interesting. Now these riffs seem to fit the tempo pretty well. Even the solo sounds all connected. By far the most interesting song till now, even the way it fades out with the clean part is decently done.
10. Cherone – The last song on this record. The usual thrashy stuff goes on till the part around 1:46, which just sounds great because of the guitar tone, the melody itself and the way it’s done. The rest of the song is also pretty well done, but not exactly a stand-out.
Overall – This album is pretty much a thrash album, the “death metal” parts are more or less the vocals. The guitar sound has the thrash feel to it, but the drums could definitely have been a bit louder. The band is tight, and I’d definitely want to watch them live. The bass is pretty much drowned out in the mix. The compositions are coherent, and the riffs are good, the growls are pretty br00tal. But there’s very little by Sledge in terms of variety, and that goes for all departments. In case they’re aiming for the plain vanilla thrash sound, they seem to have got it. But if they want a sound distinct and memorable, they have some experimentation to do.