Blood Tsunami's debut album, Thrash Metal was the sort of album you could review entirely by tracing influences - some Slayer and Metallica here, a dash of Kreator and Sodom there, a nod to NWOBHM and maybe just a touch of Gothenburg varnish. It was a good album, but at no point did it reach the stature where it could replace or at join the ranks of the classic albums it was obviously inspired by.
Grand Feast For Vultures certainly has a lot of that vibe going on again. The vicious 'Nothing But Contempt' has strong elements of 80s thrash worship, starting out with some very slaying riffs and moving into creationist mid-paced bits, before slaying again, together with a frenetic attack that brings it right up to date for today's moshpit. 'Castle Of Skulls' starts with a riff that's guaranteed to magically kit you out in tight blue denim, black t and white sneakers. 'Laid To Waste' and 'Grand Feast For Vultures' are again fast-paced, furious thrash assaults with aggressive vocals, slamming drumming and the odd flash flurry on the lead guitar. It's hard to say if this stuff is better put-together than previously - it's about on par, I'd say, although I favour the way the title track does its 'start really fast, slow it down a bit, then land the killing blow' bit so effectively and in such a concise framework.
The real surprises of this album have nothing to do with concision, however. While the previous album contained one epic track, 'Godbeater', that pointed at more expansive aspirations and a solid shot of NWOBHM melody worship (filtered via Metallica's Master Of Puppets, no doubt), these aspects are given much more free rein this time around. 'Personal Exorcism' takes the time to interleave its thrash attack with melodic sections, working up to a great endgame, the sort of thing where a memorable melody rolls on as the song winds down and there's equal scope for Zippo-waving and slightly more relaxed headbanging. The album closer, 'One Step Closer To The Grave' again varies the pace, taking ages to build from a slow grind and lacing things with enough lead fury to keep it real. All the melodic aspirations come together in the song 'Horsehead Nebula', a sprawling instrumental that sounds like a very 21st-century take on the sort of dual-guitar-melody based workout that Wishbone Ash or Iron Maiden pioneered.
I think it's good move for this band, moving away from the straight thrash tag into this sort of unique middle ground between the more extreme thrashy side of the 80s and the more melodic inputs of the British metal acts from the earlier half of that decade. While I can't say individual songs are better than on the debut, Blood Tsunami have found an interesting way to avoid getting lost in the crowds of great, good and awful thrash revivalists and merit a few more second listens than the last time around.
Year of Release: 2009
Label: Candlelight/Nocturnal Art Productions