So, there’s this band from Australia…4ARM. Maybe you’ve heard of them? I sure as shit hope so, because if not, just take your thrash metal card and burn it right now ‘cause you are NOT worthy of carrying it. After first being blown away by the band in 2013 they gained a fan for life in me. Well after the addition of singer/guitarist Markus Johansson (who has come in and fit the band’s sound like a glove while making it his own) the boys are back with new album Survivalist, the long-awaited follow-up to the previous monster Submission for Liberty. Believe me, this record was every bit worth the wait, and is sure to smash some skulls. And while it retains elements of the classic 4ARM sound, it isn’t afraid to break new ground and push the boundaries, which someone like me always loves.
On a more classic level, songs such as the opener “Eyes of the Slain” and “Poverty of Flesh” remind me of a time when bands like METALLICA and other thrash masters put out seven and eight-minute epics that held you in the palm of their hands for the duration. As a matter of fact, the disc features eight songs and clocks in at 51 minutes. I swear it reminded me of a time thirty years ago when you put your hard-earned money down and ALWAYS got an album’s worth of killer material. “Fragment of a Dream” shows Mick Vafiotis smacking his drums around like Manny Pacquiao does to all his opponents in the ring, while bassist Andy Hinterreiter hits you upside the head with thunderous bottom end.
Johansson really shows what he’s made of on this record, not only singing everything, but also playing all the rhythm and lead guitars (Evan K came into the band after it was completed). A daunting task if ever there was one, but you know what? He comes up aces on both fronts. One listen to “Poisoned Mind” and “Ignitor” should be all the proof you need. And as I said before, “Poverty of Flesh” once again channels the epics of a bygone era, and for 7:37 you will be enthralled. Along with “Fragment” this one is probably the overall favorite. The nastiest motherfucker on this record though has to be “In Living Decay”, coming into your speakers like a Browning .50 Caliber machine gun on full auto!
The ultimate twist comes in the form of title track “Survivalist”. There are album closers, and then there are ALBUM CLOSERS. The kind of song that makes you say, “What the fuck was that?” and “Let’s go again!!” when it’s done. I’ve had this record for one week now, and it’s been hard to play anything else because this is an absolute thrash-terpiece from start to finish. I swear by the Metal Gods if they aren’t touring the U.S. immediately, if not sooner, there’s no telling what I may do!! Welcome back 4ARM; you were sorely missed!!
STANDOUT TRACKS: ALL OF THEM