Soldiers of a Blackend War

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The terms grindcore and death metal have often been used interchangeably, which makes sense because a lot of death metal bands are also grindcore bands -- Carcass, Obituary, Cannibal Corpse and Deicide are examples that immediately come to mind. But there are also many death metal/black metal combos that don't have the grindcore mentality. True grindcore bands live for speed and ultra-fast tempos, whereas an outfit like Throcult (which is death metal/black metal but not grindcore) prefers to play at different tempos. And Soldiers of a Blackened War is, in its own extreme and ferocious way, more musical than the sort of death metal/grindcore discs that are ultra-fast from start to finish. That isn't to say that the headbangers formerly known as Throat Culture don't enjoy playing fast -- this mosh pit-friendly CD has more than its share of high-speed brutality. But while grindcore is a strong influence, Throcult often slows things down. Whatever the tempo, Soldiers of a Blackened War is blistering -- and lead singer Chris Vigil's demonic growl adds to the brutality factor. Vigil's vocal style makes the lyrics, which favor death metal's usual Occult-minded themes, and are hard to understand without the lyric sheet; he also makes the material less accessible (by more mainstream metal standards) and detracts from the overall musicality. At the same time, Vigil's abrasive vocals help to maintain a tortured ambience -- and quite frankly, a lot of death metal fans are more interested in sensory assault than musicality or being able to understand the lyrics. Soldiers of a Blackened War isn't perfect, but despite its shortcomings and limitations, it's a likable outing if one has a taste for extremist metal.

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