Review: Darkfall/Mortal Strike – Thrashing Death Squad

I normally don’t really care about split EP’s, as there’s almost never enough connective tissue to mash two bands together. I’d always prefer to have two separate records to ingest. I make an exception in this case, as I have actually been looking forward to Thrashing Death Squad, or let’s say I have been very curious about it.

The reason for my curiosity is less the music itself but more the people behind it. Mortal Strike’s band members are a few of the nicest people on this planet, and I have had the pleasure of sharing plenty of beer and once even a stage with guitar player Etzi. And on the other side we have the veterans from Darkfall, including none other than Thomas “Spiwi” Spiwak, the man behind plenty of concert organizations and the by far best metal festival in Austria, the Kaltenbach Open Air. Having witnessed the blossoming bromance between Etzi and Spiwi from a distance, I was looking forward to find out what the results out of their Jägermeister-infused planning would look like. On the 40 minute long Thrashing Death Squad, we get two new songs from each band, plus a cover of a song from the other band and a cover of a metal classic. Let’s start with Darkfall’s offerings.

Tides of War and The Gates Are Open are both solid Darkfall tracks with their blend of melodic death metal and aggressive thrash metal. While certainly loud and potentially headbanging-inducing when celebrated live in concert, I cannot really say that either song stuck with me. Maybe they just run on a bit too long for the amount of things happening within them.

With Here Comes The Tank they chose to cover one of the best songs on Mortal Strike’s darn good 2014 record For The Loud And The Aggressive. And to be honest, they kill it. I don’t know whether this is testament to a great cover performance or to the solid base song. Either way, it really works for me. Spiwi’s vocals are a lot more aggressive than the original, and while that takes away a bit of the stadium-rock flair, it adds lots of blunt and heavy energy. A good way to transform a cover song and make it your own!

Last but not least we have the cover of a metal classic. And they chose to merge not one, but two Manowar songs into one. Hail To The Warriors is a medley of Manowar’s Hail And Kill and Warriors Of The World. The less I have to share about my opinion of Manowar the better. For brevity’s sake let’s just say I prefer the Darkfall medley to either of the originals. It’s fun, it’s energetic, it’s heavy. It’s not Manowar. All these are positive things.

Mortal Strike have a new vocalist by the name of Martin R., and he has some pretty big shoes to fill. Matthias Gerstl’s vocal performance was one of the highlights on For The Loud And The Aggressive. Thankfully it seems that the new man on the mic does not try to imitate his predecessor, but rather confidently presents his own style. The two new songs A Storm Will Overcome and P.T.S.D. are both solid headbangers and make me look forward to the next Mortal Strike full-length. Similar to the two new Darkfall songs though, they run maybe a bit too long for what’s happening.

While Here Comes The Tank was transformed by Spiwi’s different vocal style, Mortal Strike’s take on the Darkfall classic Rise To Dominate is very close to the original. It’s still well performed, but that makes it a little bit more pointless. Weirdly enough, the same cannot be said for the Tankard cover Freibier. Here the vocals have a much more proletarian energy that feel like Mundl Sackbauer himself stepped up to the microphone and decided to wreck some shit. While I have an active dislike for the original, this cover oozes with energy, and you can feel the band having fun with it.

While certainly not a thrash masterpiece that will last throughout the ages, Thrashing Death Squad is a very enjoyable spotlight on two staples of the Austrian thrash metal scene. If you have never heard of either of the two, this is the best spot to check them out. Well done, gentlemen. May the bromance continue!

Here you can also read our preview of 2019’s Eindhoven Metal Meeting, including Darkfall.

Darkfall Official Website
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Mortal Strike Official Website
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