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Album Reviews : Maniacal – Buried In Hell

By on July 22, 2010

Thrash is an extremely narrow style. Of every subgenre of metal, it seems to have the least room for innovation and individuality. As a result, unless a band has something truly special about them, it’s tough to stand out. Let’s face it; 90% of those in this so-called thrash revival are little more than hollow replicas of bands that, once upon a time, were fuelled by a natural sense of aggression. There are still a few bands that can pull off that true, honest, ferocity (which Perth’s Shrapnel jumping straight to mind), but they are a minority. Of course thrash isn’t all about speed and hostility. The legendary Testament have their fair share of more laid-back sections, but they more than make up for it with superb melodies and infectious riffs. In between those two ‘extremes’, are all of those bands that just haven’t quite got the touch. South Australia’s Maniacal unfortunately fall into that category.

Despite an enticing opening few minutes, their debut album ‘Buried In Hell’ wanders along with no real direction. While they constantly slow down to a more groove-oriented speed, there is little actual groove or melody to be found. Instead, most of the tracks are collections of lacklustre thrash riffs slowed down until they have no real impact on the listener. The mix doesn’t exactly help in that area either. It’s hangs around in the neutral middle-ground between dirty thrash and polished groove, burying the riffs a bit too much behind the decent drum sound.

The only aspect of the album that really stands out to me is the vocals. Josh Smith is a dead ringer for the oh-so awesome Testament vocalist Chuck Billy, both in the ‘Low’ era deep growl and the earlier, higher thrash style. The power in Smith’s voice is huge, and he absolutely dominates the other instruments. There are a couple of great choruses too (see opener “Severed Thoughts” in particular), which serve as some of the only remarkable melodies on the album.

Despite all of that, ‘Buried In Hell’ isn’t necessarily a bad album, it’s just bland. The songs are decently structured, and there aren’t any horrible transitions or any of the other mistakes that often plague debut albums. But nor is there anything that really gives Maniacal any sort of identity or attitude. Maybe it will come with time, this is only their debut album after all, but until it does, there isn’t much worth listening to here. 5/10

Band: Maniacal
Album: Buried in Hell
Year: 2009
Genre: Thrash
Origin: South Australia
Label: Independent
http://www.myspace.com/maniacalportpirie

Tracklisting:
1. Severed Thoughts
2. Live Or Decay
3. Drowning Yourself In Blood
4. Suffocated
5. Hypnotic Fear
6. Feed the Darkness
7. Whore
8. Broken From Death
9. Buried in Hell

About

Mitch Booth is the owner, designer and grand overlord of Metal Obsession. In the few seconds of spare time he has outside of this site, he also hosts a metal radio show over on PBS 106.7fm in Melbourne (Australia) and organises shows under the name Untitled Touring. You should follow him on Twitter.