In 2015 Melbourne thrashers Harlott released what would ultimately end up being one of my favorite metal albums of the year, Proliferation and given the top quality of that release, it seemed unlikely that they would top it. I was wrong. Their latest effort Extinction is a monster of an album that not only continues the devastation that Proliferation left on all our senses but also completely throws a bomb into whatever was left behind, shattering all that you thought the band had in them.
First off, let’s make it clear from the start. Extinction is an all out, full-on thrash metal record from start to finish. To the detractors that feel maybe the genre had it’s time and people have moved on, let it be known that while limited in it’s structurally specific way of giving you a headbanging experience that only this type of music can bring, it’s classic-ness never loses it’s sheen as bands continue to bring a new wave of thrash metal to the 21st century. Harlott is one of those bands that not only serves as a reminder to all that some of the greatest metal music of all time came from the godfathers of thrash (IE the Big 4) but that it is possible to retain everything that works so well in the genre while also having a fresh approach that is both hooky, memorable and aggressive.
One of the things that makes this particular record memorable are the many grand intros that Harlott use to introduce some of the songs. It’s almost a main ingredient in some ways to have something bring the track in to build up to what will come. From the opening title track number to the blistering Better Off Dead to even the closer Epitaph which has a lot of atmosphere in the beginning, Extinction has many epic intros that also balance well with many epic moments to go with it. First World Solutions is scorching fast with a killer breakdown midway that just grooves along brilliantly right before it’s wild solo follows closely and the truly thrashy tracks are abundant here and they tend to be quite short in order to retain that momentum and energy, like Whore, Final Weapon and the ultra speedy Violent Conspirator which all have that punky, Slayer-esque tempo that bursts with a ton of aggressiveness and high tempo.
But not all is simplistic as those tracks however, there are bigger numbers that weave and duck and drag you around for a wild ride. Conflict Revelation is one such track that has crazy tempo changes while And Darkness Brings The Light is massive, hugely melodic and twists and turns at every corner with a big groove. Everything else not mentioned already as far as the details – production, vocals, sound, even right down to the chaotic and gritty lyrics that simply highlight the world at large, are on point. Yes thrash metal does need to actually sound good production-wise. Nothing is worse than having some great songs but an absolute garbage production value which many metal heads seem to actually defend and say it’s “part of the vibe man”. Harlott ignore that shit and really make the songs stand out even further and that is nothing but a good thing. Lyrically it’s typical thrash metal topics to be fair but as the world is right now, hard not to at least touch on the subjects that seem to really move people these days to their very core. But I’ve never been much of a lyric man myself, it’s the riffs that really matter and over the course of these 12 songs, there’s more riffs than you can handle and then some.
Whatever the final verdict is on your way of listening to music – lyrics, guitars, drums, vocals, Extinction is about as good as thrash metal gets. It’s not going to change the course of music history by any means but when an album comes along that is as good as this, musical pioneering isn’t going to mean a thing in the grand scheme of things. In this day and age of a saturated market where every kid on the block things they are all that and a bag of chips, Harlott put them in their place and show every dreamer out there how it should be done.
First World Solutions
Better Off Dead
And Darkness Brings The Light