There’s something to be said for tradition.
Most bands in the 21st century are apt to cherry-pick elements from neighboring genres, creating pastiche and collage.
This has yielded a lot of diverse and surprising music, but what of the acts that value purity?
While Korean thrash metal veterans Crash have done their fair share of dabbling, they knew when to shed the fat.
On “Crashday,” the leadoff track from their sixth album “The Paragon of Animals,” released in 2010, Crash pursued a streamlined form of thrash metal that allowed no room for compromise or wanton digression.
This was thrash, pure and simple, and the world is all the better for it.
Crash formed in 1991, an important year for thrash internationally.
The Clash of the Titans tour was blazing a path through Europe and North America, bringing the uniformly loud sounds of Slayer, Megadeth, Anthrax and others to rabid fans.
The tour never touched ground in Asia, but the members of Crash were surely looking on with envy.
By 1993, Crash had recorded “Endless Supply of Pain,” a hugely successful album that brought thrash to the Korean public at large.
Since then, they’ve been faithfully bringing the goods to fans, all meat and potatoes riffs and crushing double-kick drum muscle.
There were some discursive moments, most notably when Crash took to synthesizers for their album “Terminal Dream Flow” in 2000.
Needless to say, by the time they made “The Paragon of Animals,” a return to form was in order.
“Crashday” serves as a sort of theme song, a reclamation of the aesthetic the band had over two decades ago.
The song opens with the sort of open hi-hat timekeeping and menacingly choked cymbals that any fan of the genre would recognize as a call to arms.
For his part, longtime lead vocalist and bass player An Heung Chan hasn’t diminished in power.
In both his gritty prowess on the mic and his role as low end provider, he reminds me more than a little bit of Slayer’s Tom Araya.
The song’s choruses dip into dangerous territory–the melodic lead vocal.
This is something many metal bands struggle to implement in a way that doesn’t detract from their overall aggression.
However, Chan is able to successfully integrate some tough-guy melodicism into the song without losing steam, thanks in part to his band’s ability to keep a serpentine palm-muting groove going throughout.
The guitar solo that follows the first chorus illustrates that following a template need not be formulaic.
The guitar solo has, in many ways, faded from its once-held throne.
Even Metallica infamously forewent solos on their notorious 2003 album “St.
Anger,” (much to lead guitarist Kirk Hammett’s chagrin) .
Rather than dismiss it, Crash revel in guitar idolatry.
Here, the guitar solo achieves a level of intensity that can only be achieved with a certain combination of virtuosity and soulfulness.
The solo ascends, descends and careens directly into a harmonized lead followed by yet another shower of riffs.
Meanwhile, the harmony doesn’t remain static, but moves and flows in support of the solo, a classic songwriting maneuver for the genre.
It’s traditional without being predictable, not a bad description of “Crashday” in its totality.
It’s a throwback, yes, but I prefer to think of it as a battle cry from a set of road warriors that have been around long enough to remember when heavy metal waged its first major sonic assault on the mainstream.
Check out the Crash song “Crashday” from their 2010 album “The Paragon of Animals,” RIGHT HERE Jeff Tobias is a multi-instrumentaist, composer and writer currently living in Brooklyn, New York.
As of late, he has been studying obscure tuning systems and working on his jump shot.