Shrapnel are far from the biggest name in UK thrash metal but have been slowly gaining traction with the aid of regular touring and approval of the old school thrash outfits. With any luck, their latest record, Palace for the Insane, will give them the big push into the forefront of the metal community that they so clearly deserve.
The record opens with ‘Might of Cygnus’, an incredibly strong opener that demonstrates exactly what Shrapnel does best, going from zero to sixty while knocking your teeth out in no time at all and still managing to include memorable hooks and riffs.
The instrumentation on the album is fantastic; the harmonised guitars and lead work are stellar as demonstrated on tracks like ‘Salt the Earth’ and ‘Vultures Circle’. The drumming is consistently fantastic and the vocals are at times reminiscent of the late-great Paul Baloff, which may come off blasphemous to some but from this writer, is high praise.
‘Cannibal’ continues the record and gives off a very 80s vibe, not just because it sounds like Bonded by Blood-era Exodus but because it paints a vivid picture of horrific events and desperate situations that would be depicted in a grainy mid-80s slasher film. While depicting acts of violence is nothing new in heavy metal, this instance is very effective at establishing a story and visuals without sacrificing heavy riffs.
The record definitely excels during the shorter songs that are blunt and to the point but there are moments where the band tries their hand at longer tracks like ‘Begin Again’ that are well placed in the record and act as welcome breaks before the listener becomes tired of breakneck tracks.
The Exodus influence can definitely be heard throughout the record and will potentially give sceptical readers more of an insight into what kind of thrash metal band Shrapnel is but the band has layers and have absolutely proved that they are more than just a group of upstarts that listened to the thrash titans of the 80s.
Shrapnel tour the UK regularly and their live shows are a sight to behold and with this new collection of thrash anthems in the repertoire; they have nowhere to go but up and once touring resumes they can continue to prove themselves as a force to be reckoned with in the thrash metal scene.
Palace for the Insane is out now via Candlelight Records.