Review: Subtype Zero

Subtype Zero, Ceremonious Extinction, Seeing Red Records (2020)

When I finally tumbled on to Subtype Zero’s first release, The Astral Awakening about six months ago, I kind of felt like a chump for not having heard it sooner. I know I talk about how much harder it was to find out what was going on back in the days of tape trading and photocopied fanzines, and every time I do I kind of feel like one of those elves in a Tolkien novel banging on about how horrible (or awesome) things were 5000 years ago. But if a thrash metal record of this quality is going to be put out by a band from Cleveland I feel like it should cause my spider-sense to tingle at least a little bit.


The Astral Awakening is one of the more ripping straight thrash metal records you’re ever going to hear. If you’re like me and you keep waiting for Power Trip to drop another CD you could do a lot worse than to fill the intervening time with this. Subtype Zero pack 12 songs into 29 minutes and change, which tells you something about their approach. Their songs get to the point quickly and don’t overstay their ideas. They’ve got lots of chugging guitars and double bass thumping and the playing is pretty razor-sharp.


I feel kind of bad for these guys. They were just about to leave on tour to support their newest release, Ceremonious Extinction, when the zombie plague hit and everything to knocked into a cocked hat. Obviously, things could have been worse. The whole thing might have happened while they were on the road (or they might have caught the zombie plague themselves) but you could kind of forgive them for feeling like (what must have been) a lot of hard work was getting derailed.

 


Well, I’ve been waiting around my house for the scheduled release date of Ceremonious Extinction, which was three days ago, and I’ve now had the chance to listen to it a couple of dozen times (because what the fuck else do I have to do with my time). The four songs here absolutely shred. Three of the four are less than three minutes, while the other is four minutes and change. Once again, short and to the point is a virtue. Dripping with dark aggression, this about the best thing I’ve heard this year.


Ok, the year is only three months old, but you get my point. Subtype Zero absolutely deliver the goods. “Esoteric Illusion” absolutely fires out of the gate with some kick-ass thrash, punctuated with the obligatory whammy bar solos and pinch harmonics. There are a decent number of changes of tempo in a song that only lasts 2:18. If you guessed that the follow-up cut, “Ethereal Spirit,” started about with a head-bang-inducing double bass run, well, you’d be right.


I’m really bitter about a lot of things associated with the current situation, not the least of which being that it cost me a chance of seeing them live. So I hope all this stuff gets sorted out soon, and, yes, for the obvious humanitarian motives. But I do also need to get my mosh on, so I need these guys to be able to play in person. If you think I’m going to be headbanging to Ceremonious Extinction like some sort of nerd in front of my computer, you are 100% correct.

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