Album: Death Roll (2017)
Genre: thrash metal
Where to buy: Bandcamp
From Sweden comes the blistering speed and frenetic energy of Tyranex and their latest album, Death Roll. Instantly, this album elbows itself to the forefront of contemporary speed and thrash metal. Death Roll lives in 2017 as the clear spiritual child of the big four of 80s thrash. In its electric riffs live the aggression of Anthrax, the fretful agility of Megadeth, the focus of Metallica, and the layering of Slayer. I do not make these comparisons lightly. Every song on Death Roll screams its vitality in your face, and almost always at breakneck speed and with enough energy to power a medium sized city. This is calorie burning music for both the band and anyone caught within the blast zone, and it’s excellent.
After a four count, the album begins with the dextrous backing riff of the title track, a thrash anthem if there ever was one. The song is a showcase of the band’s versatility, giving singer and guitarist Linnea Landstedt ample opportunity to channel any nearby banshees in her raspy delivery. Her performance is impressive in its commitment and quality, and she adds something addictive to the tracks; her voice promises returns for those brave enough to headbang to the gritty compositions. In keeping up with the bargain, the rest of the band comes through in spades. The lead guitar work of Nino Vukovic is stellar. He is clearly well versed in the litany of techniques we demand of high quality thrash, from the 240 bpm palm muted sixteenth note gallop with every note clearly articulated to the string skipping necessary for quick fills, from hammer-ons and pull-offs that ring crystalline to solos that ramp up and just barely jump the tracks as they end. He is supported by Landstedt on her guitar and Majsan Lindberg on bass, who not only keeps up with the incredible pace but plants the low end firmly and aptly in just the right register. Her bass lines sound like tremendous fun to play and it is clear that she has studied the melody work of greats like Cliff Burton and Dave Ellefson. And underneath it all is Pontus Pettersson-Gull’s drum kit, hammering away with not even a fraction of a second lost without intention. All of this instrumental work requires more than mere stamina – it only really works when the entire band is moving together with precision and focus. That was one of the great lessons Metallica taught the metal community, and Tyranex has learned it well, playing as tightly as any band but not merely mechanically. There is purpose in their march.
But what really takes Death Roll to the next level is the songwriting. Tyranex employs some creative techniques to reach beyond the standard catalog of thrash. “Death Roll” has a slow breakdown halfway through the tune, reminding me a bit of the similar tempo shift in “Holy Wars… The Punishment Due” on Rust in Peace. “Fight Them Back” has a wonderful melodic movement that ends the song, one of those riffs very obviously relished by both band and fans. Several songs on the album are built for audience participation; “Bloodflow” stands out in this regard. Death Roll is a crowd pleaser, aimed specifically at the crowd versed in the progenitors of thrash, who want more than a repetition of what’s come before. Tyranex obliges by breathing their own life into the genre.