Aggravator – Sterile Existence (Dead Center Productions)

Aggravator – Sterile Existence (Dead Center Productions)

Simple yet effective...

Texan thrashers Aggravator certainly know how to lay it down – the trouble is, most of what they do has already been laid down by someone else.

That’s not necessarily something to be overly worried about, of course, especially in the backwards-facing world of heavy metal, and it has to be said that Aggravator’s enlivening mix of Bay Area riffage and Teutonic growling is pretty good to listen to – as people doing something they clearly love very well always is. Third track High Impact Homicides even strays off the path a little to feature some skewed, Death-style bass playing from Tristan Hernandez to complement the Hell Awaits-inspired riffage; This is trad thrash, make no bones about it, but the skill in execution and clear commitment to the cause displayed by the quartet make for a surprisingly fresh-sounding take on a well worn blueprint.

Mike Cortes keeps things simple yet effective behind the kit, playing with an economic style that remains hard hitting yet refreshingly unflamboyant; the guitars of Derek Jones (who also provides the vocals) and Jesse Lopez lock together perfectly from the first note of opening track Decapitators Temple and don’t let go of one another for the rest of the album. Lopez also provides suitably fleet-fingered lead work when called upon. The short solo he pulls out for Subconscious Blind is well, a bit of a blinder… sorry. His soloing on the outro of Abhorrent Point of View is also pretty good.

The band actually do sound a little better when they tray and mix things up a little – the more insistent and deathly Hacked Human Debris, for instance, which goes full Slayer but adds a nastier vocal to the mix, sounds like a direction the band might more fully explore next time out with good results. As does the clearly Carcass-inspired closing track, Target Obliteration.

That said, if you enjoyed the last Exumer album, then there’s absolutely nothing here you’re not going to absolutely lap up; Aggravator have identified their theatre of operations and are competing therein with maximum effect. No-frills, high impact thrash – who could want for anything more?

Michael Stronge
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