Manitoba’s Alphakill give thrash metal a vicious and complex facelift on their second full-length album, Degrees of Manipulation.
The rampaging “The Straw Man” storms out of the gate with galloping drums and chaotic, face-shredding riffs and kicks of Degrees of Manipulation to a hellacious start. The instrumentation is frantic, violent, and embellished with dizzying rhythmic shifts that keep the listener on their toes anticipating what form of punishment will befall them next. As with the album as a whole, vocalist Justin Stear dominates the track with his catchy, commanding wail that behaves like a rougher version of the classic heavy metal scream. “The Straw Man” definitely sets the stage for what is to come.
Songs like the bludgeoning “Bow to No Man” weave together off-kilter, palm-muted grooves and angular flourishes into a head-spinning mix that is accentuated by blistering solo work. “Monumental Hypocrisy” subjects listeners to over six minutes of technical thrash supremacy with its blood-pumping rhythms and whirlwinds of dagger-like guitar riffs whose chaotic nature is barely controlled. Then there are cuts like “In Hell” that just hammer relentlessly upon the skull with chugging, enraged riffs, only for violent outbursts of tremolo-picked insanity to come and finish the job.
Unfortunately some of the longer tracks on the record tend to outstay their welcome. The songs in question churn out section after section that are derivative of one another, not knowing when to bring everything to an end. These tracks are also grouped together in the middle of the record, which makes that portion of Degrees of Manipulation drag a little and may cause listener’s minds to wander. These particular moments tend to make the record’s hefty 53-minute runtime feel more drawn out than it should.
Some moments and tracks are definitely more memorable than others, but Alphakill have a solid recording on their hands. In times when nearly every subgenre of heavy music is having a revival of some sort, thrash metal included, it’s nice to see a band giving a new spin on a style rather than simply trying recapture a particular moment in time.
Release Date: October 26, 2018
Favorite Tracks: “The Straw Man”, “Morality Blurred”, “Bow to No Man”, “In Hell” and “Ghost”
For Fans Of: Kreator, Vektor, Toxik and Revocation