Almanac are back with a brand new album called Rush of Death which will be released worldwide on the 6th of March via Nuclear Blast Records.
Almanac, or Victor Smolski’s Almanac, is the brainchild of ex Rage guitarist Victor Smolski. The band were formed in 2015 and released their debut, Tsar in 2016. That was followed up with 2017’s Kingslayer. Smolski is from Belarus and aside from being a wonderful guitarist, a multi instrumentalist, a composer, a producer and a successful music teacher, he also happens to be a talented racing driver. He was the vice champion of the German division Rallycross in 2018 and 2019. 17 times class winner at the Nürburgring and has completed the 24 hour race at Nürburgring a stunning 14 times. That’s a lot of talent wrapped up in one body.
So, away from being awestruck by Victor Smolski and back to Almanac. This album sees a line up shuffle that has encouraged the band towards a heavier sound. Almanac in 2020 are Victor Smolski (guitars, cello, sitar, piano, keyboards), vocal tag-team Patrick Sühl and Jeannette Marchewka, bass player Tim Rashid, and drummer Kevin Kott, with Gamma Ray bellower Frank Beck and growl god Marcel Junker adding additional vocal oomph.
Rush of Death also sees the band move away from Russian themes as the overall concept instead heading towards Roman Times, Gladiators and racing speed uniting Smolski’s two biggest passions but with one agenda. Pedal to the Metal!
Rush of Death is 10 tracks, or 47 minutes, of rip roaring metal sure to bring big beaming smiles and sore necks to everyone who listens to this little masterpiece.
The album gets underway with Predator which itself starts with a shout of “drivers start your engines” and the revving sound of those engines. It’s a suitable start for the speedway that follows. Massive melodic thrash riffs blaze out, full of tradition but with a sweet sounding modern production. Everything rings crystal clear filling your head with sounds and forcing your neck to get involved. The vocals are punchy moving through different tones and pitches while the drums rip out a furious rhythm. It’s a banger of a start that continues nicely into the 6 and a half minute long Rush of Death.
A sweet little bass intro soon drops into a wicked scratchy riff. The drums really shine through again, I love the mix here. Everything is so damn clear it consumes you. Back to the song though which drops into a slower groove before starting to creep back up on you into a prechorus that just has to be heard. It’s amazing! The 6 plus minutes blazes by in what feels like seconds as we move back from the grooving verses to the phenomenal prechorus and chorus before getting a little cherry on the top with a crunchy instrumental followed by a solo to remember. Damn! Two tracks in and what a way to start the album. I need a breather.
And a breather is kind of what I get next with a 80 second interlude called Let the Show Begin. It essentially amounts to an intriguing bit of speech backed by some pretty epic symphonic sounds. This interlude acts as a seamless intro to Soiled Existence. If you aren’t sold on Rush of Death so far, prepare to be blown away. The intro, bridged from the previous track, is absolute fire showcasing massive guitars backed by symphonic sounds. Soiled Existence is a brilliant track with loads going on. Clever riffs, a catchy beat, backing growled vocals and a banging chorus. I love the gentle use of the symphony to enhance sections but not saturate the track.
Bought and Sold brings the thrashy pace back. The drums really stand out again, raining down thunderously but with each hit sounding crystal clear. The verses are quick and punchy. The chorus is solid too but just wait for the solo. Bought and Sold ends directly into the next song, a closing interlude called Human Essence. Similar to Let the Show Begin in style it closes this chapter of the album as we move on.
The longest track on the album comes next with the song Satisfied. To be honest my expectations are so high now based on the sheer quality heard so far I thought it might be hard for Almanac to live up to their own high bar. That proved to be wrong as we head into one of the more expansive and creative tracks on Rush of Death. The quirky little verses are cool and followed by a crunching dark riff before we dive into a powerfully sung chorus with little orchestral touches. An acoustic bridge is joined by whispered vocals and then swallowed whole by an emotionally charged solo.
Satisfied leaves you more than Satisfied as we jump into the next song, Blink of an Eye. I’m not a big fan of the burping technique on the guitars so the intro doesn’t quite hook me in. What follows is great though. A nice rhythm packed with plenty of groove whips us through the verses and into a strong chorus and a proggy instrumental. It’s not my favourite track to be honest. Good but not quite as good as what preceded it.
We head into the final 2 songs of the album starting with Can’t Hold Me Back which pulls me back in. The drums are absolutely brilliant here. I love the riff and once again Almanac smash it with the chorus and huge solo. That sets is up nicely for the closing track Like a Machine. An album this brilliant deserves a brilliant ending and gets it. Like a Machine is another banger with a wicked riff. A slow melody starts us off with a mix of male and female cleans. It builds gently before jumping into the riff. The back and forth between male and female vocals works really well. The chorus is strong. It really hooks you in. Even the initially surprising flamenco like start to the solo works. It’s a fitting end to a seriously impressive slab of metal.
Almanac offers a lot for the listener in a top notch album that just exudes class. There is a good mix of genres in there. Thrash, stadium rock, power and symphonic all mix well with each other. It sounds so good too, you can pick out every little note, every bass twang and every beat clearly. Fans of metal with a bit of the traditional about it should absolutely revel in Rush of Death. An album that will surely by vying for high positions in many end of year lists.
Preorder a copy now from Nuclear Blast, here.
Rush of Death by Almanac (Nuclear Blast)
The Final Score - 10/10