I first began mining for thrash in late 2013. I had already re-acquainted myself with the classics and had enthusiastically consumed the works of the “bigger” modern bands like Toxic Holocaust, Iron Reagan, and Vektor, in addition to underground favorites like Bio-Cancer and Deathhammer. As 2014 warmed up, I simply needed more thrash and Tantara quenched my thirst with Based on Evil. As the years progressed, my enthusiasm for thrash transmogrified into what may or may not be a neckbeard, fake-it-till-you-make-it equivalent of an archeological dig, and before I knew it Tantara had released “Punish the Punisher” to promote their second album. My knowledge of thrash, much like my life, has changed over the course of the last four years and having the opportunity to take a crack at round two from such a personal favorite tickles all kinds of hesher bones that should be vestigial. Nonetheless, I have a job to do and it’s time to get to work.
With the aforementioned lead single, Tantara not only pick up where they left off on Based on Evil, but showcase an even tighter sound compared to their already tight debut. Vocalist/rhythm guitarist Fredrick Bjerko’s razor sharp delivery is particularly notable, and even though it’s tempting to make comparisons to James Hetfield and Rob Halford, Mr. Bjerko’s vocals stand in a league of their own. The rhythm of Bjerko, bassist Emil Sigstad Moen, and drummer Stian Sannerud provide more than enough pummel and thump to add to lead guitarist Per Semb’s solos. It should go without saying that the riffs are as thrashy as it gets, and you may have to fight the urge to start headbanging like a mutant. In spite of the fact that Tantara’s sound isn’t particularly original, “Punish the Punisher” has a certain freshness that can be tricky to pull off in a venerable genre such as thrash. Needless to say, if you like thrash then “Punish the Punisher” will be an all systems go moment.
The melodic bombast of “Death Always Wins” keeps Sum of Forces firmly in breakneck speed territory with the tradeoff of hypersonic riffage and intricate leads providing a best of both worlds scenario for your guitar fix. The opening pummel of “Aftermath” sets up listeners for an anthemic journey complete with gang vocals and some frankly ass kicking solo work by Per Semb. A perfect track to add to the playlist at your next thrash fueled kegger (do those even exist?). Even though “Sleepwalker” gives listeners a chance to catch their breath, this mid paced rager is eerily menacing and the lead hook is bizarrely catchy. The tempo changes on this track may remind older listeners of a time when the thought of liking this kind of music pegged you as the neighborhood miscreant amongst parents and teachers, while the second gust of wind on “Sum of Forces” gives younger listeners an opportunity to hear an equally young band distill the purest elements from their Bay Area influences.
Album closer “White Noise” could be described as many things. History lesson would be one appropriate term considering the song’s 10 minute length but I think the term artistic statement would be more accurate. By this point, Tantara has shown several times over that they’re some of the best musicians in thrash, and it would be fair to say that they’ve laid claim to the throne with this instrumental manifesto.
Bottom Line: Some of 2018’s best music.
“Punish the Punisher”
Sum of Forces will be released on September 7th through Indie Recordings and Tantara is currently handling pre-orders through their BigCartel page. In the meantime you can stream 2012’s Based On Evil through the band’s official Youtube channel.