Alphakill – Degrees of Manipulation

Canada’s Alphakill is a band I ran across in 2014 when I reviewed their debut, Unmitigated Disaster. Their brand of thrash on their debut was fast, hard hitting and rather technical. The riffs were unending and the solos were godly. So 2018 brings their long awaited sophomore album, Degrees of Manipulation. This album sees the band pick up right where they left off. This album was a long time in the making but it was truly worth the wait. In fact, I think this album is a much more mature and thought out release making it slightly better than the debut, which was a task in and of itself.

Just like the debut it’s the riffs that make this band stand out. There are no shortage of killer thrash riffs on this album and they are vicious. The solos are another aspect of this band that drew me in. Adding a touch of melody makes this band the total package. Songs like the opener, “The Straw Man” and it’s follow up, “Thrashbringer,” show just where this band is coming from. Pummeling riffs, speed, aggression and that touch of melody, especially the chorus of the latter. As I said in the review of the debut, it’s hard to pin down an actual “sound” of this band. They wear their influences on their sleeves, and that is not a bad thing. You can hear the Bay Area thrash influence. You can hear the Teutonic influence. There’s even some east coast influences in their as well. The chorus on “Bow to No Man” kinda reminds me of old Overkill.

Another thing I like about this release is the production. The debut was produced really well too. The sound is modern and crisp with all instruments up front and mixed well. It’s not overly compressed and it does not sound triggered at all. It just makes for a really good listening experience. The worst thing in the world, to me, is a mighty album with horrible production. Once again the album was produced and mixed by guitarist Jon Warren. He also handled the mastering this time around as well, whereas the debut was mastered by the legend Andy LaRocque. The guitar sound on this album is also of note. Instead of that thin sound of some thrash albums, the guitars on the album are full and not overly distorted. “Mortally Blurred” is a prime example of what I mean. Not only is the song a huge riff fest but the solos and the dual leads are executed perfectly and nothing gets lost in the mix.

The more I listen to the album the more I feel that they really stepped up their game on this one. Ever since I reviewed the debut I was curious to hear where they would go next. With this album you can hear the progression in the songwriting and execution. Thrash is one of my favorite sub-genres of metal….and I mean pure thrash. There’s no crossover here. No groove metal bullshit. This is pure thrash metal how it is meant to be done.