Denial Fiend [USA]
Ibex Moon Records
USA’s Denial Fiend finally returns this year, after a 4 year break and a slight shift in lineup with their second full length album, Horror Holocaust. Having already released a sneak preview of what to expect in the form of the Ibex Moon Records After Party Massacre Soundtrack compilation CD with the track After Party Massacre, Horror Holocaust brings to listeners more music in the style already presented on that track.
The first thing that one notices is the change in vocal stylings. While 2007’s They Rise album featured Kam Lee on vocals, Horror Holocaust sees vocalist Blaine Cook’s debut studio performance with the band and the difference is immediately noticeable, right from the opening track Corrupted Flesh. While the music with Kam Lee featured a more traditional death growl, Blaine Cook, with his thrash metal/crossover background certainly brings a breath of fresh air into the music, with his high pitch thrash metal/punk-ish shouting vocal styles, at times bordering on screams and shrieks, and this might put off fans who are already used to Kam Lee’s deep growls.
If you were like myself, with After Party Massacre being the first of Denial Fiend that you encounter, fret not as that is probably one of the weakest tracks on the album, as the rest of the album are fun-filled, energetic death/thrash metal. While the music on Horror Holocaust sees the music become less heavy and brutal than on They Rise, this was certainly made up with this through the sheer energy that is bursting out of the band, focussing instead on the speed of the music to ensure that the album is one wild and crazy ride for anyone who manages to sit through the whole album.
The guitars are of course, another highlight on the album as guitarist Sam Williams lets it rip on his guitar with at times soaring and guitar solos, and at times simply pure face-ripping shredding, on top of the brilliant riffs beneath. Solos such as those on Stuck Pig/Bleeding Out are melodic and well thought out, with the less-distorted-than-usual lead tone adding a unique taste to the song. the The palm-muted, heavily chugged riffs ensure that the death metal roots of the band are not forgotten, yet the increased pace that the band has travelled at (courtesy in part of drummer Rob who maintains the pace of the music throughout) displays the increasing thrash metal influences that the band has injected into the music this time.
The background shouting and spoken vocals that were utilised on the previous album have also remained, retaining the punk edge in the music as well, such as on title track Horror Holocaust. The band also keeps up the haunting mood through the instrumental interlude Dunsmoor, which also happens to be a track that is bass-heavy, and while it does not exactly display the technical talent and prowess that bassist Terry has, it displays the ability for the band to make use of every instrument in the band to keep up the intended mood and atmosphere throughout the album.
The only track throughout the record that caused the album to suffer slightly is After Party Massacre with the awkward riffing and tempo of the band, especially on the opening lines of the song, though this is more than made up as the song progresses, with the inclusion of the quirky and softer segments in the middle of the track.
Horror Holocaust is an alienating record, especially for longtime fans of Denial Fiend. The vocalist tends to end up becoming the sound and the face of the band, and this is also the case of Denial Fiend as the introduction of Blaine and his impact on the band’s sound has proven. However, when listened to with an open mind, Horror Holocaust certainly deserves to be classified as a masterpiece in its own rights.
Album Review: Various Artists – After Party Massacre Soundtrack