Almost 4 years to the date since their debut album, Portugal’s Perpetratör have returned with their second inspired thrash metal offering. “Altered Beast” manages to be every bit as potent as “Thermonuclear Epiphany” was, and the band makes this immediately clear with “Altar of the Skull”. The song opens with out of control soloing that makes way for higher speed tempos designed to instantly force a pit to erupt. This track in particular shows a few changes in tempo, but ultimately settles on Dark Angel speeds for most of its runtime.
This tends to be the formula for Perpetratör on “Altered Beast”. Most of the songs explode with energy, offering breakneck, frenetic drumming alongside equally crushing riffs. The band is wise to incorporate some more restrained drumming at certain points in order to avoid the album being one long blur, but they never do so in a way that causes them to lose focus. Perpetratör’s axemen are the highlight of the record for two clear reasons. Firstly, the soloing on the album strongly resembles Slayer’s out of control style, which is particularly effective at higher tempos. To their credit, these guitarists know enough to get more melodic when the music is slightly slower, but fortunately, that doesn’t happen too often. The other really cool thing about their playing is that both guitarists have a different tone. This is something that is no doubt done on a lot of records, but few albums make it as clear as “Altered Beast” that each player has a unique sound. It makes the riffs even heavier, as the double tracking is perfectly clear.
Another refreshing element of “Altered Beast” is how the singing isn’t anything too extreme. It mostly follows the harsh yelling approach that thrash began with. Perhaps an odd comparison, but at several points throughout the album, Perpetratör’s vocalist sounds similar to Coroner’s Ron Royce if the Swiss singer wasn’t totally buried in the mix on every album. In general, the band rarely opts for more brutal elements such as blast beats, but they do show up occasionally (“A Fleeting Passage Through Hell” being the most prominent example). In fact, Perpretratör sometimes goes the other way and offers pure speed metal. “Terminal Possession” is what Motörhead would sound like if Lemmy were 20 years younger and doubled his drug intake. This song is a major highlight on the record for its unmatched effort.
“Altered Beast” is an easy album to like because the level of thought and work the band put into the record is clear. Whether due to the strong production, the vibrant and memorable songwriting, or just the sheer willingness to snap necks with their speed, Perpetratör has done many things right. The album doesn’t step too far outside the thrash metal formula in any particular direction, so it’s likely to appeal to all fans of the subgenre!
Be sure to check out and like Perpetratör on Facebook!
“Altar of the Skull”
4.2/5 or 84%.