For some reason I tend to be very particular about thrash, more so than other metal genres. With the resurgence of the genre there have been plenty of bands that get the basics down and don’t go any further, but thankfully there are still enough acts out there trying to offer thrash that actually has some staying power. Spain’s Rancor is one of the more recent bands I have come across that does the style well and has the right balance of flashiness and memorable riffs. As is turns out, the group has actually been around since 1998 but didn’t start releasing demos until around 2002 or so. Their most recent effort Dark Future has some absolutely killer instrumental work and fans of the style should enjoy what these guys have to offer.
Rancor comes out strong right from the start, and the majority of their tracks have a great blend of fast paced thrash riffs and slower moments. They don’t go for speed the entire time like some of the other groups in the genre, instead scaling back the attack at key moments to offer some mid-tempo grooves and slower melodic breaks that provide some variation and help the instrumentals refocus. Dark Future certainly isn’t lacking in prominent bass lines or flashy guitar solos, but it feels like there is actual substance to go with it and there are some passages that were still in my head after I had finished listening. There haven’t been a whole lot of thrash releases in recent memory I was able to say that about, and this definitely makes a big difference. Rancor may not stray that far from the tried and true style, but the catchiness of the riffs and prominent grooves goes a long way and the case of substance over flashiness prevents them from becoming a mere retro thrash retread.
Lead singer Dani López delivers a fairly dynamic performance that incorporates everything from melodic cleaner pitches to gruff singing and a little screaming. The first time through Dark Future a few of these vocal styles didn’t quite click with me, and after giving the release several more spins I started to appreciate the performance more. I can definitely appreciate the sheer level of variation that is present throughout this album, as López seems to be jumping from one pitch to the other multiple times over the course of each song. But there were a few sections where the transition did seem to be just a bit too much and the vocals seemed just slightly off, which may be what I was picking out the first time through. It’s not a deal breaker by any means and doesn’t happen that often, and as a whole the energy of the performance won me over (though I’m still particular to the higher ranges, which may just be a personal preference).
Any issues with Dark Future are minor, and as a whole Rancor come off as a thrash band that knows their chosen style quite well. The vocals hit just about every range you can expect from the genre, and the instrumentals had a great mix of speed and slower grooves. I tend to avoid reviewing thrash too often as there are far too many mediocre groups out there, but Xtreem Music has once again proven they have an eye for talent. If you’re looking for an album that does the old school sound well without merely copycatting off the more popular acts, this should do the trick.