Must Kill – Cause & Effect EP


English thrashers, Must Kill, were the first band to go under the microscope when Scream Blast Repeat launched in April 2020. Their Ghost Malevolent EP secured a blazing 9 out of 10 review and led us to conclude that ‘Must Kill have the tunes as well as the chops.’ We also insisted that ‘Nuclear Blast and Century Media should pay attention.’ Instead, the Covid-19 lockdowns put a hold on the quartet’s progress until 2022, where they triumphed in the Metal 2 the Masses competition for the Hertfordshire/Bedfordshire region and stormed the Bloodstock Festival in the same year. The drum stool remains unstable in the group, and this is the first EP with new bassist, Alex Reeder, but Must Kill’s decision to take their time with their second record is a wise one. Cause & Effect is yet another reminder that Dan Pool and the boys are England’s finest underground thrash act.

What is it about this band that makes them so special? Opener, ‘My Scourge Sentence’, answers this question with ease. Six minutes and five seconds of relentless thrash metal flamboyance include subtle influences from other parts of the heavy music spectrum to produce something more flavoursome than your average output. A scarring Anthrax riff at the beginning clashes with Dan Pool’s gruesome throat calibrations. James Bell’s sharp drum patterns cut through the mix like buzzards feasting on a warren of dead rabbits. The gang vocals in the chorus reverberate in a thunderous drama of exclamation. You never know where the tempo will settle or when the next riff will materialise. And, of course, lead axeman, Daryl Cooper, rips through his scales like Jeff Waters (Annihilator) in his prime. Listen how he reunites with Dan Pool in the outro rhythm for a low-end bludgeoning of Sepultura proportions. This is how you write modern thrash and splash it in contemporary waters.

You can pick out the influences on each song with no great difficulty, yet the lyrics deserve praise for their poignancy. The opening song looks at the futility of existing in advanced age when ailments and disabilities take their toll. “Convalescence know my name/ I served my time/ I’ll free myself from my scourge sentence.” ‘Pull the Plug’ and ‘Suicide Machine’ by Death covered similar topics back in the day, and you can hear Chuck Schuldiner’s vocal phrasing on ‘Bête Noire,’ where the band opt for a muscular mid-tempo thrash. Here, Dan Pool alternates between anguished death metal roars and shrieking voice uplifts in alternating movements. The sudden reset of the song after the first chorus towards a fretboard frenzy of careening note combinations is straight from the Mustaine/Friedman playbook for Rust in Peace.

Thrash metal anoraks will remember Dan Pool and James Bell as youthful members of respected Bedfordshire prodigies, Abadden. Their 2010 debut remains a cult classic of the underground, and you might even come across their music in the box of Terrorizer cover CDs you keep in your attic for no particular reason. ‘No More’ is the type of blue-collar reduction of complex phenomenon that the man on the street boils down to a simple equation – stop playing divide and rule with people’s lives. You can imagine Municipal Waste slamming through this piece of air guitar mania with a pizza in one hand and a gun in the other. The closing title track is faster and more domineering in its use of sixteenth note drumbeats. Dan Pool’s voice approaches the gruesome agony of John Tardy (Obituary) as he sees the world through the eyes of a protagonist who’s hooked on drugs and down on his luck as a plaything in a corporate game of control. Though not explicit in the lyrics, it might be a reference to the opioid epidemic that ruined so many lives in the USA over the last decade.

Must Kill is more than a passion project to the members of the band. They took their time with this EP to ensure it captured their enthusiasm and need for expression in a tumultuous period of their lives. Cause & Effect is a superb triumph from the youngest veterans in the English thrash metal scene. We take them for granted at our peril.

JVB


Verdict


Release Date: 23/06/2023

Record Label: Self Released

Standout tracks: My Scourge Sentence, Cause & Effect

Suggested Further Listening: Abadden – Sentenced to Death (2010), Sylosis – Cycle of Suffering (2020), Inhuman Condition – Fearsick (2022)