the fact that Germany gave the world some of the finest thrash metal bands in the entire metal genre, as a whole, death metal never really seemed to catch on there as much as it did in the other major DM scenes of the world. Despite
that, there were a few bands from that country that put out some killer death metal, and the best of them is none other than Atrocity
’s first two records.
This record, Hallucinations
, is an album that, while definitely flawed, is also an album I find to be impressively ambitious for its time; not that many death metal bands had incorporated such a progressive and technical sensibility as Atrocity
had at this point in time (the closest comparison is maybe Atheist
and even then they sounded nothing alike), nor were most DM bands ambitious enough to have their full length debut be a concept album.
The songwriting is definitely great, exceptional at times. The band had a rather unique riffing style; somewhat thrashy (somewhat), but with a liberal sense of twisting melody to the riffs… it’s odd describing it, but the band’s sense of riffing often exudes a sense of something not quite being right, but the listener can’t quite put the finger on what it is. (not the riffs, but the emotional mood of which they paint) The riffs are as impressively technical as they are catchy, and there aren’t any really redundant sections on here that should’ve been cut out – the band definitely gets the most out of every riff. (which is more important than most realize; you don’t want to play your best riff for all of three times, but neither do you want a shitty riff being the anchor of the entire song).
The vocals are a really unique point to the band – VERY high-pitched and raspy, somewhat along the lines of the Teutonic thrash scene but harsher. Alex Krull’s vocals are outright merciless in their delivery, and perfectly portray the exceeding unnerving lyrical themes perfectly. The guitar work is stellar with both the riffing and the complex, soaring lead guitar work being major highlights to many of these songs. (the first lead to the title track is a good example of that) Bass for the most part follows the guitars, but it has its various moments to shine (such as the bass break in “Fatal
Step”, among a few others). The sole downside to the musicianship is the drumming; the drumming does not by any means ruin the songs, but at times some of the abrupt change up the band throw in can come off as awkward, such as when they shift into a blasting section.
The highlights… “Deep In Your Subconcious” is a pretty lengthy, involved number which starts the album up, and for the progressive influences on here, the band still manage to keep things running smoothly and aggressively, especially with the riffwork. “Fatal
Step” is the shortest, but slowest track on this album, with a midpaced midsection speeding up into a terrific solo. “Last Temptation” is a terrific closer, going through a number of shifts throughout its running time and doing so exceptionally well as a climax to the album’s story. Everything else I didn’t mention is also certainly high-quality, effective death metal that is worthy of one’s listening time.
The production is reasonably solid and one of the better productions to come out of Morrisound Studios – the guitars have a full, sharp tone to them, while the bass boasts a thick tone that supports the guitars very well. The drums for the most part are well-produced and recorded, with a somewhat hollow, echo-y snare and well-mic’d cymbals (though the toms and the bass drums are a bit difficult to hear – I have the remaster, for those wondering).
its flaws, Hallucinations
is a great, borderline on excellent album, and one of the most unorthodox and inventive albums in its composition for the time. This album definitely comes recommended for those looking for a high-quality death metal album with progressive elements to it.