Europe has seen the emergence of quite a few retro-thrash bands in the 21st century -- bands that didn't exist before the 2000s or early 2010s but go out of their way to emulate the thrash bands of the 1980s. Germany's Fatal Embrace, however, cannot be lumped in with Europe's 21st century retro-thrash movement; they have been around since 1993 and celebrated their 17th anniversary in 2010. The year 1993, of course, was a time of serious upheaval in the rock world; alternative rock had become rock's primary direction, and so many '80s headbangers were disappearing from MTV. But thrash had something in common with alt-metal: a strong punk influence. Punk is the element that alt-metal, industrial metal, death metal, black metal, and metalcore all have in common, and there is no shortage of punk influence on Empires of Inhumanity. Recalling a time when metal was first discovering punk in a big way, this 2010 release makes no effort to update or alter Fatal Embrace's sound. These headbangers remain stylistically committed to thrash's '80s heyday with a high-velocity approach that draws on influences like Slayer, Megadeth, early Testament, and pre-‘90s Metallica. Empires of Inhumanity is quite predictable -- few surprises occur -- but it is also inspired and invigorating. Thrashing their way through most of this 48-minute CD, Fatal Embrace only slow down on a few occasions and are as intense on their own material as they are on a cover of Iron Maiden's "Killers" (which is from Maiden's Paul Di'Anno era). "Killers" is certainly an appropriate cover given the influence that power metal had on thrash -- indeed, it was a wonderful thing when '80s thrashers were influenced by Iron Maiden and Judas Priest on one hand and the Sex Pistols, Black Flag, and the Ramones on the other -- but instead of simply emulating Maiden's version, Fatal Embrace take the tune in a more mosh pit-friendly direction. Although far from groundbreaking, Empires of Inhumanity is an enjoyable listen if one is a thrash metal diehard.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson