Review: Bray Road – Feast Upon the Helpless
Written by Brett Kihlmire
Thrash metal is one style that just won’t die and for one very good reason – it’s awesome! Since many agree with that statement, there’s an arsenal of great thrash metal bands throwing down around the globe, including Wisconsin natives Bray Road.
Throwing their weight around with gnarly riffs, wicked solos and a snarly vocal style that reminds me of Jeff Waters of Annihilator (think King of the Kill era), Bray Road is definitely a tight band and worthy of checking out. And while I really dig the sonic blast of the lead guitar and the chugging style of the riffs and bass, I found the drums to be a little underwhelming on most of the tracks. That’s not to say Dylan Karpinski is a bad drummer, far from it actually, it’s just drums, especially the double bass, tends to get sounded out by the rhythm guitar more often than not, which takes the tunes down a few pegs for me. Of course, that’s not a major complaint and definitely doesn’t hurt the album much. I will say, however, that the lyrics kind of grind at me sometimes. Look, I don’t expect epic scale lyrics, but some of the songs felt way too light in the lyrical department, especially the choruses – they came off way too simple, especially on ‘Tortured’ and ‘Pounded Into Dust’ where the chorus runs under five words. My last criticism has more to do with production than the actual music itself – on Panic Attack the drums overpower the guitars so much that the guitar is pretty drowned out in several sections. Regardless, it’s a gnarly song with some killer riffage.
On the flipside, Bray Road excels with their thrash chops. They keep it consistently heavy and their solos are varied – don’t expect the same old fret taps and squeals. As I had mentioned before, Karpinski rocks the drum kit and the bass is actually quite prominent. That all said, I have to commend Bray Road for sticking true to their influences and switching things up just enough song-to-song keep it all fresh and rocking along. I really dig how ‘Panic Attack’ has a thrash meets rock’n’roll vibe and the solos just rip and tear. As well, tracks like ‘Baptized in Pain’ and ‘Shallow Grave’ bring the pain with a straight, no nonsense thrash metal style that we all can appreciate.
Praise and constructive criticism aside, Feast Upon the Helpless is a gnarly album notable for its old school thrash matte finish. It’s a little rough around the edges at times, but that’s the way a lot of us thrashers like it. That all being said, if you’re looking for some good old fashioned thrash metal, this is the album for you. 7.5/10