The Troops of Doom – The Absence of Light EP


A year on from their debut record, The Troops of Doom are back with a new EP and another vicious attack of blackened thrash. For those of you unaware, the Brazilians formed in 2019 with original Sepultura guitarist, Jairo Guedz, aiming to spearhead them through the 2020s with a 1980s manifesto of metallic mayhem. The latest EP includes a cover of his former band’s classic, ‘Antichrist’, and a guest appearance from the godfather of death metal in Possessed’s Jeff Becerra. Old-school death metal puritans should be salivating at the mouth just thinking about that.

Like 2020’s The Rise of Heresy, this one starts with sinister string rotations and brooding horns as if they’re trying to score a big budget Godzilla movie. It’s a strange introduction for an EP of old-school death-thrash with crusty double-time beats and fast tremolo riffs. Guedz makes no secret of his determination to recreate that special malevolent vibe of the burgeoning extreme metal scene of the mid-1980s when Celtic Frost, Slayer and Sodom were the bands at the forefront of the global underground and inspiring Sepultura’s classic Bestial Devastation EP of 1985. But unlike that piece of proto-blackened death metal, this one is much cleaner and far more technical. If The Rise of Heresy revisited 1985, this one moves on to 1986 with longer song structures and daring melodies. The guitars throb on ‘Act I – The Devil’s Tail’ with a discernible Slayer intensity and prefer a Metallica/Exodus stomp than the sludgy distortion of the Teutonic thrash sound. Vocalist, Alex Kafer, is raspier and more reliant on an open larynx for his might and avoids the guttural growls here.

Jeff Becerra reminds us that he pioneered the death metal vocal back in 1984, and his excellent contribution to ‘Act II – The Monarch’ shows that he still has it in abundance. The faint gothic choirs and flickering folk guitars will surprise you as much as the high-end riff patterns at the beginning, but this one is a mid-tempo bruiser when it gets going and once Kafer slips into his Tom G. Warrior range. Guedz’s old friend, Max Cavalera, released one of the finest metal albums of the year with his Go Ahead and Die project, but this track is equal to the high points on that LP. If Max captures the hardcore-death metal hybrid of 1987 when crossover and thrash were producing all manner of bastard offspring, then, The Troops of Doom are one year behind this fertile return to the past on ‘Act II – The Monarch’. But it’s no less effective in its execution of a revered sound from a special era.

If there’s one criticism of The Absence of Light, it’s the persistent feeling that the EP is more of a single with b-sides. Any cover of ‘Antichrist’ from Sepultura’s Morbid Visions album will be better than the original, and this one does a great job of reminding us how influential Guedz’s former band were on the infant extreme metal scene of the 1980s. But including two demo versions of track two and three is pointless and an obvious attempt to stretch the track listing from four to six songs. When you break it down and exclude the instrumental intro, you only have two new compositions here.

Nevertheless, The Absence of Light glows with prestige and sucks you in like a Medieval justice of the peace summoning you to a public execution. You know you can’t resist and will enjoy the spectacle no matter what.

JVB

*** You can read our interview from earlier this year with Jairo Guedz of The Troops of Doom here.


Verdict


Release Date: 17/09/2021

Record Label: Blood Blast (digital) / Metalized Records in Mexico and the US (CD) / Hellven Records in Europe (CD) / Voice Music in Brazil (CD) / Hellven Records in Europe (vinyl)/ Repulsive Echo Records in Europe (Cassette).

Standout tracks: Act I – The Devil’s Tale, Act II – The Monarch

Suggested Further Listening: Celtic Frost – To Mega Therion (1985), Deathblade – Deathblade (2021), Possessed – Revelations of Oblivion (2019)