Review: Aggravator – ‘Populace Destructor’

In 2008 vocalist/rhythm guitarist Derek Jones and drummer Mike Cortes cast aside their skateboards to form San Antonio Thrash quartet Aggravator. 2012 saw the release of a demo followed by their debut full length release ‘Age of Combat’. Aggravator followed that with ‘Populace Destructor’, originally released in 2014 on ‘Mulligore Productions’ but now repressed and rereleased via ‘Dead Center Productions’, so if you missed it first time around, you have a second chance to get a copy.

Sound wise, it’s a chunk of honest, no frills thrash that’s well varied in tempo, and well delivered, with good, vitriolic vocals, and plenty of shredding. What more could you want?

The ten track, twenty nine minute offering gets off to a galloping start with the rapid ‘Born In Uniform’, which maintains a constant pace but has a swift direction change just before a second half extended shred, after which you are hooked.

It gets even better with the hypnotic ‘Fleshwork’, one of my favourites of the album. It’s thrash, but with a sexy groove, along with superb lead work, which just spirals away in the second half, and you can hear the bass nicely beneath.

Also tickling my aural fancy is ‘Social Unrest’. Faster than its predecessor, it’s a track that just runs away with you and a catchy vocal repeat of “Social Unrest“, where the tempo takes on a sinister mood. There’s some great off-kilter guitar work in the second half, which precedes the closing shred.

You get a moment to collect your thoughts with the sombre ‘Aestus Mortis’, a brief instrumental interlude that precedes the punchy riffs of ‘Fatalist’.

‘Populace Destructor’ opens on drum rhythms and bass lines that form the backbone of the track, even when the tempo shifts up an unprecedented amount of gears. The midpoint shred is even faster, dropping away in the second half, but becoming more complex, before one final high-speed shred. ‘Industrial Conflicts’ is addictive, hypnotic and sinister, gradually rising in tempo, with an utterly crazy shred to close.

The superb ‘Unparalleled Cruelty’, is another big favourite of mine. It’s an action-packed offering, with a sinister intro that’s followed by a nice chunk of lead work which spirals rapidly away, then it’s straight down to business. The track twists and turns so much, with its tempo and direction shifting, it’s enough to make your head spin… all before the vocals arrive and topped off with a closing shred.

‘Isolated Despair’ is a steady plodder with very vitriolic vocals, but the pace ramps back up for the final track, ‘Frozen Atrocities’, which is full-tilt from the offset. The pace varies throughout, and good measure of lead work pops up at regular intervals across the duration.

‘Populace Destructor’ is well worth a listen. A consistent offering from start to finish.

Review: Jools Green


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