Beyond the Embrace

Against the Elements

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Against the Elements is the album Metallica could have made instead of the eponymous "Black Album" if they had decided that the technical ecstasy on ...And Justice for All wasn't necessarily a bad thing, but they needed to be beefed up instead of dismissed. The most amazing thing is that New England-based thrashers Beyond the Embrace managed this level of proficiency on a debut. All of the elements are here, from the driving dual leads à la vintage Iron Maiden -- though Beyond the Embrace up the ante with a trio of guitarists, all of which can be heard in a mix that is powerful enough to get its point across -- layered upon pounding double bass and song structures based upon mighty, crunchy riffs like the best the Bay Area had to offer in the '80s, but with a modern touch similar to what In Flames does that should keep the young metalheads as interested as the geezers. The latter don't have many new bands that combine chops, songs, attitude, and reverence circa 2002, but they do with Beyond the Embrace.

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