Two years after unleashing their debut album, ‘Conquest’ onto the Aussie metal scene, Newcastle thrash metallers Sabretung are back with their new album ‘Collision’. There was a fair bit of positive buzz for their initial full length, and as such the album was sold out almost as quickly as it was released. Looking to disprove the so-called ‘sophomore slump’ that seems to hit a lot of bands who crumble under the pressures of bettering their first album, Sabretung have delivered an album that can not just hold a candle to their initial platter of thrash but stands above it as a more than worthy follow up.
These guys seem to love their thrash metal fast and heavy because that’s the order of the day for most of the tracks on show here. The instrumental intro ‘An Offer Of False Hope’ blasts right into a blistering flurry of guitars and drums, and the album seldom changes course from here. There are little flourishes in the songs to keep things interesting, such as the drum intro to ‘Collision’, the Middle-Eastern flavour and short break into slower territories present in ‘Sadistic and Merciless’, or the first minute or so of ‘Hedonistic and Merciless’ (not the most original title after track 3), which slows the tempo almost right down before breaking into another uptempo passage. By and large, though, ramming speed and crunchy riffs are the order of the day. Luckily, the band seem to have some strong compositional skills, with most tracks featuring strong riff sets and some quality leads, making this album a very fun listen, in spite of a seeming lack of variation.
Of course, an album full of raging thrashers with little downtime could start to drag a bit without any major changes to the songwriting, and Sabretung avoids this pothole with ‘Endless Winter’, which opens with an atmosphere building opening passage of keys played underdrawn out almost droning guitar tones. The drums soon kick in and it’s back to business mostly as usual, but this slow build is really effective after so many fast-paced numbers with little in the way of variation. The riffs here are especially strong, as are the guitar leads, and overall I’d pick this as my highlight of the album for sure. Second to last track ‘Martyr’, the other slower number here, is unfortunately not up to this same level. While not much of a tempo drop over the other tracks, the riffs here just don’t feel as strong as the other tracks here, and the solo feels almost tacked on at the end. As mentioned earlier, the closer ‘Hedonistic and Merciless’ features a similar slow build to ‘Endless Winter’, but once again I couldn’t help feeling the riffs here weren’t up to scratch compared to what came before it. It’s a shame that after holding such a solid level of quality for most of its duration, the album ends on a lower note with these two numbers.
The production for this album actually works really well overall. While individual elements of the production might seem lacking, when put together, everything just works. Drums sound great here, the kick has a clicky tone that really suits the material. The snare gets a little lost at times and is more a strong thud than a punchy percussion, but again, really fits the sound of the record well. Cymbals sit well in the mix too without being too dominant and have a pleasing tone. Guitars might be a little on the thin side and are definitely fairly processed, but again, this isn’t necessarily a fault as it works well within the context of the album. The bass tends to get lost in the mix most of the time, and when it pops up it has this clanky tone that sort of seems at odds with the other instruments, which is my only issue with the sound here. The solos throughout the album are of very high quality with a very solid tone, and every lead break here is a joy to listen to. Vocals consist of gruff mid-range shouts. There’s no variation in the vocals, but they suit the album well.
If you’re not a hardcore thrash fan this isn’t an album for you, but anyone who enjoys their thrash hard as steel and fast as a shark is sure to really dig Sabretung’s newest album. The album doesn’t end as strong as it started, and some more variety in the songwriting would have worked wonders here, but it’s hard to hate the album, filled for the most part with some very high-quality thrash. While lack of variation may seem a problem, the album’s short (just over 30 minutes) run time ensures that the album is enjoyable throughout without overstaying its welcome. A really solid second album from these guys, and probably a notch or two above their debut. A good pickup for any thrash fan.
Reviewed by Matt S.