Royal Rage – Evolve


Brazilian thrash quartet, Royal Rage, see no need to rush out an album every two years. Their type of music hasn’t paid a living since the heyday of Sepultura in 1996, and it has even less chance in the age of streaming and the collapse of physical CD sales. Maybe this explains why Evolve is only their second album since 2010 and their first for six years. Why else would their latest effort smash through the fifty-five-minute barrier? This wouldn’t be a problem if you’re Metallica or Voivod in the mid-to-late 1980s, but this is 2024, and the aim of Royal Rage is to saw through your bones.

As a tight thrash metal outfit, Royal Rage deserve the highest of praise. The title-track provides the adrenaline a la Metallica circa 1988 with a sharp production that allows the guitars to dominate like a shark in high seas with a sea of ferry survivors to feast upon. Pedro Ferreira approaches the mic like a man with shrapnel lodged in his stomach and a knapsack weighing him down. This is classic thrash metal with an emphasis on tempo and the excitement of conflict to draw you in. They even give us a complex bass solo in between the lead guitar trade-offs.

The best thing about thrash metal is its ability to remain free of monotony, unlike its death metal cousin. ‘Into the Abyss’ goes heavy on the slamming Slayer rhythms with a focus on snarling vocals rather than Tom Araya’s tuneful shouting. Bang your head, mother-fucker. The open strings of the guitar flow like a pipeline of oil under threat of sabotage. Its precise palm-muted movements, biting mid-range chords, and perspicuous yet heroic vocals make it easy to follow. And, of course, efforts like ‘Virtual Hell’ remind us that guitars replicating machine guns are always welcome. Listen to the vicious plectrum action in the mid-section of ‘Cheap Addiction’ as the guitar strings scratch like a panther’s claws against wood.

The only problem here is the average length of the songs. Few of these compositions need to exceed four minutes when the tempo is already high. Only in ‘Eyes of Glass’ and ‘Khan’ do they try something different, yet inserting a punk chorus direct from Social Distortion in the latter is a strange way to win the affection of a thrash metal fan. Strip back the former to four minutes and it would have more impact.

The last four songs of this album are like watching a football match as a neutral spectator when the winning team make it 4-0 with twenty minutes left to play. What’s left to enjoy at this stage? Royal Rage have the experience and the panache to produce a quality heavy metal record, but they must learn the art of cutting down their excesses on album number three.


Verdict


Release Date: 07/06/2024

Record Label: Sliptrick Records

Standout tracks: Evolve, Cheap Addiction, Khan

Suggested Further Listening: Prayers of Sanity – Doctrine of Misanthropy (2021), Legion of the Damned – The Poison Chalice (2023), Breed – History of Tomorrow (2024)