Infanteria – Patriarch (2022) – Review

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Thrash Metal and RMR. That’s always been a testy relationship, to say the least. An uneasy experience of ear-splitting ‘yeah’ screamers. A genre populated by masses of he-men who rush through their metal without thought to good songwriting. Or anything actually, apart from playing fast ‘n’ loud without regard to speed limits that could lurk along the way.

But for some, the genre worked out just dandy. And those are the ones that still fill stadiums to this day, even if some of them are way past their due date. Yet, those very same masters of the trade also needed to learn that just hollering about the stage won’t make them millions after a while. Fun and games hijacked by that vile commercial reality? Quite so.

Thus, the RMR crew was mighty surprised to find Infanteria on our review roster. All the more so as they embrace that somewhat stuffy genre since 2005. First as a Metallica cover band, and then with new material, as of 20081) or thereabouts. So, once we fired up their newest record Patriarch, it wasn’t without a fair dose of trepidation. The metal world for sure won’t need yet another mediocre thrash screamer, right?

But fear naught. It turns out that this band plays thrash with a freshness the aforementioned Metallica lost some 20 years ago. This makes vocalist Chris Hall often sound like Hetfield in the ’90s with benefits. Too much cover will leave its traces, want it or not. Yet, for all those thinking that Patriarch is just some sort of copy/paste affair with an ersatz Ulrich on drums, hold your horses. It’s not. Besides, the band decided to embrace progressive vibes on top of their thrash urges. And their prog is not insane and mindless djentology, but a style more akin to the long-defunct Nevermore. This probably saved their metallic bacon and spiffed the quality of their offering up to a fine shine. But more to that later.

Progressive Thrash Metal is nothing new, of course. Yet, I’ve never quite heard that fusion of true power with a fresh interpretation of prog. Actually, the two genres never quite mingle. Instead, Infanteria here master the art of those smoothly-executed crossovers that never gripe. And I mean never. I fully buy the band’s claim that it took them forever and a day to finish the record. The record boasts a pretty pristine production that (almost never) loses an element or two in the mix.

Furthermore, there’s a saying that the work of the drummer is like the glue that holds a music creation together. Adrian Langeveld‘s performance needs a shoutout here. He masters prog vibes as well as he does thrash and other extreme metals out there. This is drumming that feels like an ever-moving framework that keeps the mix in good standing.

And Patriarch takes no prisoners. Already the track at pole position – Burnt Relic – makes you listen up. This is aggressive thrash played straight in your face, and a pleasure to behold. The aforementioned masters of muppets couldn’t have done it better. It does set the tone with its galloping airs that lean into Heavy Metal as much as they grab stuff in yeah-man land. And already, subtle proggy vibes start to creep in. Raging Bastards – the second track – really sets the tone for what is to come. Thrash mixed with prog that profits from one of those insanely genius solos that will appear all around the record. And Embrace The Trauma arguably comes on top of all tracks on Patriarch. If you got no time to listen to it all, that’s the song you need to hit to get to the essence of the record.

It’s also true that the band’s knack for good songwriting saved a few tracks from damnation. Like Into the Depths that first endlessly noodles about this prog thing. Until the track gets focused on thrash by Hall‘s considerable vocal powers. Or Swansong that just couldn’t convince the RMR crew – until some groove finally took over and they did a friggin’ subdued Haken on us about 3/4 along the way.

But ultimately, we just found out that Thrash Metal still can be fun. Infanteria here found an almost perfect mix between abject metal brutality and craftily injected prog. Patriarch is a great example that proficient songwriting, a good concept, an almost flawless production, and high-level musicianship will finally lead to an equally great record. RMR didn’t tire of the piece, it sounds equally fresh after more than a dozen listens as it did the first time around. And that’s quite a feat. Well, I think that Infanteria just found a bunch of new fans over here. Well done.

Ed’s note: Move to the Edge of Mandala for more of slightly the same ilk.

Record Rating: 8/10 | Label: Self-Released | Web: Facebook (band)
Release Date: 17 June 2022


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