Rhythm & Views 

Avenger of Blood

Originally hailing from San Francisco, Avenger of Blood is now a Las Vegas thrash band signed to Heavy Artillery, a New York label that bills itself as "the new force in old-school metal." Death Brigade supports this declaration, offering 10 songs of pure throwback thrash and positioning AoB among a larger, spiked-armband firmament of evildoers like Kreator.

Although the band shamelessly cites its European influences, AoB can't suppress its violent American roots, and Death Brigade at times recalls Slayer before Rick Rubin showed up with his polished studio techniques and bigger budgets.

This isn't to say Death Brigade is unpolished. Despite being recorded in a small Vegas studio, this delightful album eschews the weak kick-drum problems that typically plague shoestring metal efforts. Instead, tracks like "Vicious Onslaught" hit like a dynamite-packed wrecking ball courtesy of skinsman Shannon Frye and bassist Shawn Loureiro. Guitarists Eric Greaney and Marc Flores, meanwhile, produce an infinite number of ear-grinding riffs while trading off on dark, atonal leads that give you no choice but to very gradually raise your fist in the air and throw out devil horns like a vapid teenager.

Every song here is a (crypt) keeper, but the highlights are definitely the shred-rocket ride of "Poserslaughter" (with lyrics detailing the myriad ways in which AoB plans to dispatch false metalheads) and the medieval executioner's story of "Sadistic Inquistor," perfect background music by which to read a Conan comic book by candlelight.

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