Quick Review: BLACK FAST Terms of Surrender
Neo- or retro-thrash has been around long enough now that we've started to reach the next inevitable phase, that being a revival of the middle period where thrash was gradually morphing into what would become a distinct genre in its own right: death metal.
Bands like Skeletonwitch have been dabbling in this crossover sound to some extent or another for years now, although thus far the most common concession to death metal in neo-thrash has been layering cookie monster vocals over an otherwise staunchly thrash (or thrash + metalcore) foundation. St. Louis quartet Black Fast have the standard Revocation vibe down as to be expected, but they also bring a surprising dose of Death worship to the proceedings, weaving effortlessly between the two without any hard left turns or jarring diversions.
Album opener "The Keep" is primarily in the uptempo thrash mold, riding energetic triplets all the way to a soaring guitar solo straight out of the 80s, any dearth in actual innovation ably compensated for by sheer personality and energetic, ultracompetent delivery. The Revocation comparison is less about Black Fast being a copycat band and more about them bringing a similar balance of technical competency and focus on strength of the riff even more so than flailing, hairpin leads.
Variety is also a key here, with tunes like "The Coming Swarm" and "The Fall" recalling Chuck Schuldiner's penchant for mixing slower, pensive melodic passages with contrasting shred set pieces. Throughout, Erik Rutan's predictably excellent production highlights each band member's individual strengths without shortchanging any given one of them. Terms of Surrender features the kind of precision thrash that benefits immensely from a clean mix, which alone ensures that this album would be an unlikely candidate for the dreaded Sophomore Slump.