Ketzer, which translates to “heretic” in German, produce a rather compelling compound of metals which started as a blackened thrash act back in the formative days. With their upcoming album Cloud Collider, they bring on more distortion effects and melo-death like features to go with it. The end product is a sinister piece with instrumentation smeared together that relies heavily on tremolo picks and exceptional drumming (the cymbal clashes and tapping are especially out of this world).
Planting the seeds for these newer innovations forced some of the old stylistics out, leaving little in the realm of thrash riffs. Instead, the picking style and borderline “gaze” overlay mesh with melodic riffs to create songs like “Walls,” dominated by higher pitched tones and a misty atmosphere. The appropriately named title track “Cloud Collider” captures the mist and instead lays it atop black metal aesthetics, giving it a far more menacing feel. The harsh vocal outbursts on this one also have a hotter bite to them, complimenting the musical structure very well.
For the most part, this is how Cloud Collider plays out ’til the end, making it a release better heard in full. The downfall is that it’s a bit long, and by the last couple of tracks, I’m ready to move on to something else. “The Wind Brings Them Horses” kicks off the second half, which is probably my personal favorite track thanks to it standing out significantly. Stompy chord progressions that mold into straightforward blasts give it a strong aura and the drumming here is some of their best. On the other hand, the bottom half also holds “No Stories Left,” containing even throatier shrieks as backing vocals, and beefy bass passages. Beyond this, the rest of the record drags.
Chaos is a key factor to a lot of the architecture here, and overall it’s a pleasant listen. It took me four spins to completely digest because there is so much going on, but Ketzer have a good sense of songwriting and did a solid job of setting themselves apart from the pack. Trimming the end wouldn’t have hurt at all, but I suppose adventures like this one were meant to be on the lengthier side.