Indestructible Noise Command – Black Hearse Serenade
Reactivated 80s thrash band INC has made up for their disappointing initial reunion releases (2010’s Bleed The Line EP and 2012’s Heaven Sent… Hellbound) with a devastating new album that takes the intensity of their music to new heights. If you’re familiar with the band’s first two albums from 1987 and 1988, Razorback and The Visitor, prepare yourself to be shocked at how different INC sounds today. Twenty-odd years have passed since those minor classics so it’s not unreasonable for the band to change their sound. INC still seemed to be finding their way into their new sound on Bleed The Line and Heaven Sent…, but their persistence has paid off as things coalesce into a focused, cohesive statement on Black Hearse Serenade. Opening track “Stirring The Flock” hits like a sledgehammer with tight, heavy riffing and double-bass drumming that leaves no doubt about the extreme leanings of the album. Vocalist Dennis Gergely has dropped his distinctive, quirky vocal style for a tough-guy approach more akin to what you’d expect on a metalcore album. “Sainted Sinners” settles down the speed, but not intensity, of the album into a mid-tempo thrashfest for most of the songs. INC treads into Pantera-like territory on “Cyanide & Whiskey”, but there’s a more distinctive style to be found on the gems “The Lies We Devour” and the title track. The album ends brilliantly with “No Turning Back”, which treads new ground for the band with keyboards and choir chants, and “Love Like Napalm”, an acoustic ballad that dramatically builds up into a powerful solo to make what could be the band’s best song. The difference between INC’s first two albums and the reunion efforts is still jarring, and I miss the band’s unique qualities that made them so endearing back in the 80s. Black Hearse Serenade, however, brings INC fully into a new era with an album that’s relevant in present times and cements their rejuvenated sound.