|Review: Shackles - Traitor's Gate|
Label: Hells Headbangers
Year released: 2009
Review online: August 21, 2009
Reviewed by: Michel Renaud
Australia's Shackles formed back in 2000, but this is their first full-length album, and unfortunately their last as the band split up a few months ago. Believe me, there are many bands I would have love to see split up in their place. Oh well. They're Australian, they're on Hell's Headbangers, and so far in my experience this combination has meant some guarantee of a minimum of kick-assery (new word.) Even though Shackles' brand of Thrash mixes in more Death than Black Metal, one can't help but think of countrymates Deströyer 666, Destruktor and Razor of Occam here and there while listening to Traitor's Gate. The vocals especially are more of a low, aggressive Black-ish rasp that's sometimes reminiscent of Deströyer 666.
Shackles' sound is a bit more laid back, sometimes more "party-like" than the aforementioned bands, with a few songs here guaranteed to trigger a whiplash-inducing headbanging frenzy at a metal party. While they kick it up a notch in terms of speed here and there, most songs are on the lower end of fast/higher end of mid-paced, when they're not downright slow and heavy – and heavy is the name of the game here, as the sound is downright crushing on this album, pretty much pinning you to the ground from the get go and treating you like a prison bitch for the next 41 minutes. Simply put, this is a heavy thrasher. There are of course some exceptions, with a few well-placed more relaxed, very melodious passages that amazingly don't sound out of place on this otherwise razor-sharp guitar fest. There's even a couple of acoustic passages – a bit overdone on "Exhumed from a Watery Grave", however; a 1:27 acoustic interlude that sounds OK the first few listens, but that I often found myself skipping after a while – your mileage may vary on this one, however.
Traitor's Gate is basically unpretentious Death/Thrash served with the expected aggressive Australian style. If you've been buying everything in the genre, some of this will be déjà vu, but either way in the end this is a pretty cool album well worth checking out.
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