Aspid - Extravasation (Reissue)

It's time for a quick history lesson - Russia's Aspid (or if you prefer, Аспид) were a technical thrash metal band from Volgodonsk formed in 1988, and this is their only known release. That's literally all that's known about this band - the album 'Krovoyzliyanie' - the Russian title of the album - was released in extremely limited quantities on cassette and vinyl only upon it's initial release in 1992, and the band split sometime afterwards which has made this album somewhat of a rare treasure. But in November 2007, Stigmartyr Records gained permission to remaster and reissue the album on CD, something which was welcomed with open arms by the many who've had to put up with bad quality vinyl rips online for years. And yes, it's more than worth it.

Aspid's 'Extravasation' - that's the translated album title, slightly confusing for history boffins - is one of those albums that's so good that you genuinely can't believe that it never got more attention upon it's initial release. It's an enormous album with some of the most mind-bendingly technical, yet tightest music you'll ever hear... and it's from Russia, which is even more amazing considering that Russia is the last place people think of when it comes to thrash. The intro track by itself is almost enough to warrant a purchase as it is - it's two and a half minutes of synth-heavy, pounding atmospherics which sets the tone for the album perfectly, bleeding effortlessly into 'It Came (Aspid)' which is probably the simplest composition present on the album. Not that that's a bad thing as it serves as a means to wean you into it gradually, and it picks up halfway through with some insanely technical guitar playing that'll make even the best players throw their guitar at the wall in frustration. Guitarist Aleksander Sidorchik - that's right, ONE guitarist - is ridiculously talented and his playing on the album is nothing short of otherworldly, with the bassist Vladimir Pzhenkov not only keeping up with Aleksander but actually besting him in some areas. 'Extravasation' and 'Towards One Goal' have tastful intros from Vladimir, but his bass intro on 'Where the Night' has possibly the best bass playing on any metal track - you seriously have to hear it to believe it. The aforementioned 'Towards One Goal' is where the band really starts to kick it up a few hundred notches, as the bass intro is a slow piece that leads you into a false sense of security before Aspid decide to go mach ten.

Vocalist Vitaliy Hlopov and drummer Vasiliy Shapovalov are beasts in their own nature too - Vasiliy plays stupidly fast in order to keep up with Vladimir and Aleksander (again, 'Towards One Goal' is a prime example) and Vitaliy, despite singing in Russian and therefore being indecipherable, has some downright vicious shrieks and raspy screeches on nearly every track. Though Aspid tend to favour speed for the most part, they're not afraid to slow it down every once in awhile - 'Give Me (Play For A Ballet)' is a relatively mid-paced number until the halfway mark - and even the fast numbers fail to become tiresome, as everybody strives to keep everything interesting until the very last note. There's a definite sense of progression to be found here, maybe not on every single track, but tracks like 'Hey, You!' are constantly shifting from one place to another and coupled with the band's technical approach it makes for an extremely enjoyable release. The final three tracks - 'Where the Night', 'Comatose State' and the title track - are by far the most technical tracks to be found here, maybe slightly less so with the title track which is instrumental, but they're a fitting end to this juggernaut of a record.

The production is a standard affair as far as remastering old thrash records go - it's been polished up a fair bit with everything made a bit louder and so on, and since many won't have heard the original mix (at least not a good quality rip of it) then it's fair to say that the (re)mix present here is a solid one. It's always great to hear such fast and technical albums where everything is present in the mix, since there's a danger of instruments clashing with each other and sounding extremely messy with so much going on - though naturally, the vocals and guitars are at the front. The band is impossibly tight with their execution and every band member should be proud of what they've accomplished on this album.

In case you didn't notice, I really love 'Extravasation'. It's very rare that such albums (read: obscure) get the reissue treatment that they deserve, and Stigmartyr Records have done every metal fan a favour by finally giving this album an authentic CD release. The only minor complaint I have about this is that all the lyrics are in Russian - there're no translations for them anywhere, so naturally this limits it's potential ever so slightly. That said, the main focus with Aspid is the energy, the ferocity and the technicality within the music itself - nearly everything about this album is absolutely excellent, from the music itself to the incredible artwork. So if you're a fan of thrash or especially technical music, this is nothing short of a mandatory purchase - though I still can't pronounce most of the band member's names!

1. Intro
2. It Came (Aspid)
3. Towards One Goal
4. Give Me (Play For A Ballet)
5. Hey, You!
6. Where The Night
7. Comatose State
8. Extravasation
Reviewer: Dave Ingram Jr.
Jun 25, 2011

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