From nothing, an abomination

ANZILLU: Ex Nihilo

Release year: 2023
Label: M-Theory Audio

Those of you who frequent this site – all two of you – have probably noticed that we cover thrash metal relatively rarely. The obvious reason for that is that out of all the sub-genres of extreme metal, thrash is the one we listen least to. And yes, we’re referring to ourselves in the majestic plural again. ‘Tis the time of year for megalomania.

This is not to say we don’t listen to or enjoy thrash. The essentials – Slayer, Metallica, Testament, Sodom, Kreator and so on – are obviously no strangers to our stereo system, and every now and then we will spin a newer album. Like this one. Anzillu – whose name means “abomination” in Sumerian (and hence the oh-so clever title of this review) – being a case in point. A Finnish newcomer, Anzillu was formed in 2019 but honed their craft until 2022, when the first singles of this, their debut album, were released. But as the confident approach on the album betrays, these guys are no newcomers: just about everyone has been involved in prior bands who’ve released albums.

So, thrash then. It’s a broad scope, right? From the filthiest of proto-black metal to insanely technical musical wankery, thrash is a genre that can take on many forms. Anzillu land somewhere between classic 80’s thrash and modern thrash, without sounding too much like either. Think the classic stuff of aforementioned Testament, or why not Forbidden, mixed with adequate elements of 2000’s metal. Ex Nihilo doesn’t self-servingly emphasize the old school elements, but neither does it charge headfirst into modern territory. It finds a balance.

That said, the classic elements are prominent. The razor-sharp riffing and classic thrash plod coupled with a very classic style thrash vocalist (you know, the sharp, tight voice which sounds like clenched sphincters) will certainly warm the hearts of those who consider the 80’s to be the apex of thrash. But then, every now and then Anzillu will throw in something else – a bit of black metal shredding and blasting on Mental Graveyard, or a bit of old In Flames style melodies on Discordia – to stir things up.

Aided by a sharp, tight and heavy sound, Anzillu’s thrash is extremely convincing for a debut album. The band finds a balance between the tried-and-true classic elements and newer influences, fast-paced thrashing and mid-tempo headbanging sections, fist pumping aggression and melody. Ex Nihilo keeps a balance, but manages to steer clear of gray, tasteless neither-here-nor-there middle grounds.

All the above considered, I’d still recommend this first to fans of classic, old school thrash. Not to people who think Sodom’s In The Sign Of Evil is apex thrash, or those who think Vektor is it. No, the kind for whom the latter 80’s with the technically proficient but still hell-bent-on-rockin’ bands from the US represents the height of thrash – those people.

Ex Nihilo is the game opener. With an album like this under their belt, the stars are the limit for Anzillu.

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