One of the most recent entrants in Stormspell Records’ “Trend Killers” series is ‘Frozen Void,’ the debut full-length album from Weresquatch. The band name is a creative amalgamation of the terms “werewolf” and “sasquatch.” Their namesake (which definitely favors the sasquatch part of its lineage) is depicted on the album cover in a frozen tundra (a “frozen void,” if you will) under attack by an alien who has just emerged from a crash-landed spaceship. The Oregon-based quartet is described on the CD’s tray card as “classic speed / thrash metal attack” and the prevailing wisdom amongst armchair quarterbacks on the Internet appears to liken Weresquatch to early Kreator. The comparison has appeal, especially as it relates to the vocals of Eric Eisenhauer, which definitely have a Petrozza-like snarling quantity. It would be unfair, however, to write the band off as a Kreator clone. This definitely isn’t an Avenger of Blood-type mimicry situation; indeed, musically, Weresquatch appear to draw as much from the Bay Area thrash movement as they do from the Teutonic variant. What we have with ‘Frozen Void’ is a solid thrash record that in no way revolutionizes the genre, but delivers meat’n’potatoes goodness from start to finish. The 8 songs fly by in just 33 minutes, so Weresquatch are not out to waste your time or test your patience with self-indulgent passages and loads of filler. Genre conventions are honored and respected on ‘Frozen Void,’ with only rare lapses outside the boundary lines, such as the odd whiff of a blastbeat. The production job of Joel Grind (of Toxic Holocaust, and also an Oregon denizen) is powerful and effective, without sounding cold or mechanical. All eight songs are chock-full of headbangable riffs and fist-pumping rhythms, although you may find yourself hard-pressed to recall them when the CD stops spinning. To be sure, a few moments stand out: The gently strummed acoustic intros to “Witch Ripper” and “Night Terrors,” the nearly rock’n’roll riff in “Whiskey Bent and Strip Club Bound,” the effective use of gang vocals on “Heathenized,” the occasional doubling of Eisenhauer’s vocals to pair his usual rasp with a Cam Pipes-type falsetto, and the tasteful leadwork of Eisenhauer and Alex Ponder running throughout the album.
Lyrics may raise some eyebrows, especially the aforementioned “Whiskey Bent and Strip Club Bound,” which has more than a few cringeworthy couplets (for example, “tattooed babes is what we crave / come on baby I’ll be your slave”). Elsewhere, “Thrashin’ ‘n’ Slashin’” is every bit as clichéd as you might guess, and “Night Terrors” is yet another ode to Freddy Krueger. “Casey Jones” appears to be about a character from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics. But I shouldn’t be too hard on Weresquatch for their lyrical concepts. No one listens to thrash for stunning lyrical insights. They listen to thrash to have their heads ripped off by razor-sharp riffs and punishing tempos. On these metrics, Weresquatch are right on target. If you’re a battle-hardened thrasher, ‘Frozen Void’ will definitely scratch your itch for some new quality thrash.
~ Review by Kit Ekman ~