Outliar: Thrashing the Vault
Self-released, Jan. 3
More than a simple placeholder between full-length releases, Outliar’s new EP, Thrashing the Vault, is the Apex-based metal band’s second chance to make a good first impression.
After the release of Outliar’s debut, Provoked to Anger, in 2012, founding guitarist Ray J. Currie dismantled and rebuilt the band, hoping to shift it closer to his vision of fusing Bay Area thrash with old-school death metal. He removed the record from retail and streaming platforms and released the gore-splattered Taste the Blood in 2018 with a new band, vocalist Anthony Graham, guitarist Rick Ace, bassist Cisco Rivera, and drummer Adam Hancock.
For Thrashing the Vault, the new band re-recorded five of Provoked to Anger’s nine songs with the chemistry and variety that helped Taste the Blood find the sweet spot between brutality and speed. It’s a concise retcon in which early ideas meet present capabilities.
Melding purist thrash with melodic death metal, Thrashing the Vault feels neither revivalist nor ostentatiously progressive. After a thick, chiming instrumental opener, “A Loss of Sincerity” launches into a driving metalcore riff before a classic thrash vamp that wouldn’t feel out of place on Metallica classic Kill ‘Em All. And “Rod of the Shepherd” is driven by a guttural rhythm section and a spartan vocal pattern, though it still makes room for modern-metal melody in the old-school palette.
Outliar’s knack for dynamic nuance peaks in the eight-minute closer, “Vendetta,” which boasts sprinting speed-metal passages and elegant harmonic solos within a shifting arrangement that puts all of the band’s strengths on display. Taste the Blood already proved that Outliar was a revitalized band, but this invigorating reinvention clinches it. In fact, it’s their strongest statement to date, distilling their assets with no frills.
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