Winnipeg’s Besieged back after long layoff with meaty thrash jolt on ‘Violence Beyond Reason’

Thrash metal is one of the strangest wings of heavy metal’s expansive estate, a style that kind of peaked three decades ago and really hasn’t regained any momentum. The pioneers of the sound still are the primary drivers, and while there have been new bands that have come around since then, not a whole lot of them have gained any traction.

But that’s not to suggest it can’t be done, and Winnipeg thrashers Besieged have proved that again with their punishing new record “Violence Beyond Reason,” a seven-track destroyer that feeds from the sound’s roots and remains true to the source of nourishment. It’s also their first album in 12 long years, finally following up 2010’s “Victims Beyond All Help” with this formidable barnstormer that maintains the band’s penchant for speedy, raucous goodness that satisfies that thrash metal sweet tooth. The band—vocalist/guitarist Nolan Smit, bassist Nick Tober, drummer Tristan Smit—has force, charisma, and just enough violent tendencies to contribute to thrash’s rich history and keep the sound alive and well for many more years to come. Someone has to do it. Might as well be Besieged.

“Last Chance” rips open with the leads rampaging and the speed becoming a factor as the vocals feel fully barked, kind of reminding of Shadows Fall’s Brian Fair, which is a compliment. The track is aggressive and nasty, the riffs trudging hard, and the chorus sounding like something fun to yell back in a live setting. “Paragons of Brutality” blasts in as the guitars get to the races, and the drums feel like they’re trying to take apart cities. Raspy howls blacken eyes as the playing is fluid as it attacks, the guitars chugging and spitting fire. The heat increases as the soloing takes charge and amplifies, everything spilling into the title track where the guitars wail and blister. Words are spat out as the speed hits a reckless level, then hell is ignited as the speed limit is roundly mocked with everything ending suddenly.

“Path to Defy” crushes as the playing slashes through your mind, then the speed picks up and makes the ride increasingly more dangerous. The vocals splatter as the intensity multiplies, the low end mauls, and the final moments make sure they stomp violently on your neck. “One World Coma” bursts in as cool, shimmery guitars emit a breeze, and the rumbling makes your footing uncertain at best. The guitars pick up and charge the gates, while heavy energy brings the walls crashing down. “Descent Into Despotism” crashes and smashes right away, raspy howls drive their proverbial knee into your chin, and chugging guitars increase, causing your heart rate to skyrocket. Strong soloing gives off thick steam as the playing thrashes violently before ripping off into a vortex. “Testaments” is the closer and brings a heavy does of thrash and vocals that give a whiplash effect as you try to hold on to something steady. Morbid speaking creaks as the guitars unload with force, rushing with vocals that bruise bones and a smashing finish that leaves nothing behind but pain.

Thrash has had such a strange past couple decades as this style that once was so prevalent has struggled to make a proper impact. Bands such as Besieged not only have a stranglehold on the sound and feel, but “Violence Beyond Reason” can be a reason why the subgenre thrives again and listeners get a proper smashing to wake them up to this approach. This is a fun, punishing album that makes me think of my own formation as a fan of thrash and gives me hope it can live and dominate all over again.

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