Album Review: Black Fast’s Terms of Surrender

  • Kip Wingerschmidt

How does the almighty groove fit into thrash (or punk, for that matter, but let’s save that for another day), if at all? My personal opinion is that groove — or soul, if you prefer, or even feel (although that term applied in a musical sense tends to be taken more loosely) — can and should have a place in any and every genre. Clearly certain types of music rely on this element much more, but there needs to be a certain level applied for any riff/song to transcend notes/rhythm and give that intangible feeling that makes you want to bop your head, regardless of tempo.

Thrash, especially blackened thrash, is often devoid of such a layer, but we now have several examples of contemporary bands that employ a soulful aspect to dizzying results (Revocation certainly jump to mind, and I’d also cite Mutilation Rites and Vattnet Viskar as well). Obviously there is a more focused main purpose to thrash metal, leaning on speed and raw drive to get an audience all riled up, but in order for genres to evolve bands ought to push the envelope past tried-and-true somehow.

St. Louis throwback-ish foursome Black Fast (whose bio compares themselves to Death, Megadeth, and Kreator) have speed and drive in spades — at times they sound like crystal meth incarnate at a tweaker family reunion — but frankly this breakneck locomotion seems to come at a price, with the music coming off slightly sterile and repetitive at times. That’s not to say that there isn’t pure fire for thrash-heads on Terms of Surrender; there most definitely is, and it sounds legit. But diversity and character are not priorities, and it gives a one-dimensional feel throughout. Even following a lyrical intro that offers a much-needed deeper sense of melody (in the song “The Coming Swarm”), once the group catches up to its usual rapid tempo the riffs blend together again and don’t distinguish themselves from each other as much.

The slowed-down moments and/or mid-tempo riffs, when they do come, offer a nice respite from the regular mad dash. The outro of the aforementioned “The Coming Swarm” evolves into a nicely ripping jam and following song “Tongues of Silver” has a propulsive yet more deliberate tempo. But clearly this is not what Black Fast do (case in point, when they fake us out with a slower intro on “The Fall” only to speed up into more of the same), so enter these parts expecting straight-up yet well-done thrash.

Which we all could use some of in our lives.

Black Fast’s Terms of Surrender comes out on August 7th via eOne. You can stream the track “To Propagate the Void” here and pre-order it here.

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