Metreya – Machines Of War (EP Review)

Metreya - Machines Of War

It was the Queens’ Birthday public holiday in June 2009, when I embarked on a trip to the Lucky Australian Tavern in St. Marys to check out some local metal. Among the bands that played that day were a thrash metal band from the Illawarra calling themselves Blackened. Though I hadn’t heard so much as a single note of music from these guys before, they immediately grabbed my attention and didn’t let up until they had finished their set and left the stage. Though they were without a lead guitar player at the time, they played a tightly executed set of punishing thrash with a modern tinge. They mentioned through their set they were working on an EP, to be called ‘Machines Of War’ and actively seeking a lead guitarist up to the job. Unfortunately, not long after this, the band dropped off the face of the earth, seemingly for good.

Fast forward to 2013, with the lead guitarist in tow, the renamed Metreya have finally unleashed the long-awaited EP. Delivering 4 vintage Blackened-era tracks (plus an intro), anyone with memories of seeing these guys live all those years ago may well recognize some of the cuts here. Though the band themselves state a heavy helping of 80’s thrash influences, and there are certainly plenty of vintage influences to this recording, I found overall the tracks displayed here carried a heavier influence of more recent releases from the likes of Exodus, Testament, Destruction and Kreator. To this end, the band have done a fantastic job of composing violent and captivating thrash metal that gives a subtle nod to the masters of yesteryear without ever becoming a full-blown throwback band.

The band have compiled a strong tracklist for Machines Of War. After the desolate intro track sets a gritty and foreboding mood. ‘Martyrs’ comes crashing in with a great variation between brutally fast thrashing riffs and crushing grooves and a monstrous breakdown, 6 and a half minutes of pure thrashing brutality. The title track comes in next, a much more direct thrashing attack with a constant fast tempo, this one is sure to get a violent pit going. ‘Rage Fury Fire’ comes in next. Bearing more apparent modern thrash influences and chugging grooves heavier than a house of bricks, this one definitely holds the attention even if the tempo takes a considerable drop. The proceedings close out with ‘War Era’, another violent thrasher with some very well implemented shifts in the tempo. The instrumentation throughout this EP is incredibly tight, which should only be expected when a band have been playing the tracks as long as these. While the guitar leads throughout Machines Of War aren’t anything out of the ordinary, they fit the overall feel of the recordings well, and they definitely make a welcome addition to these tracks.

Production was handled by Lord Tim at his SLS Studios, and he has graced this EP with a crushingly heavy production with plenty of grit. The guitars carry a powerful heavy tone, having plenty of crunch to them and a solid clear tone. The bass adds to the overwhelming sound with a heavy low-end growl that really adds some major depth to the overall sound of the EP. While initially, I wasn’t a huge fan of the drum tones here, after repeated listens I’ve come to the conclusion that, while I found the snare perhaps a little dead sounding and the cymbals a little lost in the mix at times, I find after repeated listens that the somewhat mechanical drum sound works very well here. In particular, the kick drums sound great, with a suitably heavy low-end thump in slower passages, and a suitably clicky tone in the faster sections, a mix that works really well in the overall sound of the EP. The vocals don’t show much variation, the strong, gruff vocals fit the recording well, giving a suitably heavy performance without going too far overboard with the vocal theatrics.

While it’s a shame Blackened were ever put on hold and the EP took as long as it did to finally surface, it’s great to finally see these tracks released. After giving the EP multiple spins I can conclude it was well worth the wait. A fast but furious little 5 track EP of furious, violent and extremely well-composed thrash that’s well worth any metalheads’ time to seek out. It’s hard not to see big things ahead for these guys. If I had to make any complaint, it’d be that the EP’s over so soon, but with the band set to release a full-length later in the year, it shouldn’t be too long before we get to hear more from this talented band. Highly recommended.

Release Year: 2013
Label: self-released
Category: EP
Country: Australia

Reviewed by Matt S.