Review: Audiopain “1986” CD

This is a re-release of the second demo from this Norwegian act, but be not misled by the name, as the demo was originally released only five years ago, not during the mid-80's heyday of thrash metal. The style herein is definitely influenced by 80's thrash, but like the band's more recent work there are some loose references to the winding dissonant textures and atmospheres of their country's black metal scene as well. For the most part the tracks average around four-and-a-half minutes each with ample tempo changes and a balance of old school thrash with more contemporary riffing, and even though many of the tracks have elements that differentiate them, the general delivery is consistent across the board. "Mechanic Commando" is slower and a hint more dissonant at the start, but it's "The Hunt" that's the first really interesting track with its more energetic bursts of speed and creatively discordant runs. Thankfully things continue to improve from there, as "Gospels From Hell" sees the band following a midpaced crunch with some moody discordant accents and solid lead breaks while Apollyon (from D?dheimsgard, Aura Noir, etc.) makes a killer guest appearance on lead vocals. Of course, the one downfall to his contribution is that his vocals are a shitload better than the band's own lead vocalist, and this track really solidifies the fact that the strained shouts/snarls Audiopain normally employs here are certainly a weak link that tends to hold back the overall impact of the material. Ironically the other true keeper of the disc comes with 7+ minute "Glorious Beings", another midpaced number that this time focuses heavily on off kilter rhythms that build much more heavily around that cold Norwegian dissonance, and, yes... a guest vocal appearance from Mayhem's Maniac. Good stuff. The recording isn't bad. Of course it's somewhat raw, and perhaps they were trying to make the recording sound a little more dated than it is due to the demo title, but it sounds okay. The drums are somewhat distant and probably have the most ruggedness happening, but the guitars are loud and fairly dominant and the vocals are right in there with the guitars. If I could change anything I'd push the vocals deeper in against the music as they're a little too loud and the strained shouting delivery is somewhat irritating as it is, but other than that and maybe upping the bass levels the sound quality's pretty good. The layout is apparently true to the original release and contains mostly collaged artwork that looks pretty solid. The lyrics are somewhat chaotically arranged and I definitely enjoy that presentation, so overall I'd say the packaging is pretty nice looking. Of course, lyrics such as, "The extreme limit of art is my goal, as I nail you, dead, to the wall," do nothing for me, but what can you do? These guys just haven't been able to win me over yet, so this becomes another somewhat enjoyable yet occasionally boring release that displays an inconsistent level of songwriting quality that happens to boast a few truly promising moments. Of course, this is from the band's early stages of development anyway, but then again, someone did see fit to re-release it, so...

Running time - 28:57, Tracks: 6
[Notable tracks: Gospels From Hell, Glorious Beings]
Vendlus Records -