Label: Reaper Entertainment Europe
Written by: Heavy Harlequin
If you hear a band describing their style as „Olympic Thrash Metal“, what kinda music would you expect from them? I mean, the thrash metal part is kinda obvious, (if you’re familiar with heavy metal genres, that is) but what does „Olympic“ sound like? Well, pretty much like in viking- and pagan metal, the Olympic is in reference to their lyrics and their songwriting. So instead of singing the praises of Thor and Odin or other long forgotten ancient entities, they’re are all about Zeus, Poseidon and the gods of the Olympus.
According to their Facebook page, this is what the four-piece, Hamburg-based band named Surface consider their personal genre, yet there is so much more to their style than just “thrash about Greek gods”. Since their inception in 2010 and their first album “Where The Gods Divide“ in 2012, they steadily evolved more towards death-, rather than thrash metal. This culminated in their second album “Rise of Kronos” in 2015, in which they presented a perfect combination of the two genres. In the four years since the release, Surface played over a hundred concerts and shared both open-air-stages and club stages with scene-giants like Kreator and Megadeth, on national and international grounds. In the greater Hamburg-area, they have become a constant part of the local metal scene and built up quite a huge following. There have also been some big changes in the line-up, with Tim Broscheit taking up the bass duties in 2016 and Johnny Ritter joining on the guitar recently in 2018, bringing some new influences and musical directions into their upcoming album “River of Souls”!
The album starts out with the title-track, which mostly sounds still like Surface as I knew it: A good headbanging mixture of thrash- and death metal! Followed up by “Ode to the Sun”, a song I didn’t really like at first, but kinda grew on me over time. With its unusual structure, breakdowns and changing speeds, the second song also signifies the general direction the band takes with the album. It is infused with a huge dose of Slam-Death-Heaviness, which is most likely due to the influence of Tom and Tim’s second band, a grindcore-/slam-death-combo called Meister Scheisze (Master Shit in German), of which they took quite some inspiration for this release. This is even more obvious in “Feed The Fires Of Rome”, which combines those elements a lot more fluently, adds an absolutely brutal bass-play and a catchy refrain, making it easily one of my favorites of the album. The other big influence is the new guitarist Johnny Ritter, who shows his true colors on songs like “Thanatophliles” and “Kosmologica”, giving them a Tech-Death edge with his progressive guitar-play. Also having Tim as secondary vocalist elevates a lot of the songs to a new level of epicness, particularly in the refrains of songs like “Hera” and “Olympus Has Fallen” – the apocalyptic finale of the album!
In general I can say that this album is a huge step forward for Surface! The introduction of so many new influences makes their style really progressive, elevates it beyond the usual Death-Thrash-Mix and turns it into something that is uniquely their own. You can tell that, while songwriting they always keep their live shows in mind. Despite all the progressiveness, all the songs’ refrains are kept very catchy and aim for that sing-along (or rather shout-along) factor, that invites the fans to headbang. With that being said, their style doesn’t always hit bullseye and the unusual song-structure can feel off-putting to the listener and take some time to get into. The best example for this is probably “Hera”, which suddenly starts to sound like a completely different song towards the end. If you don’t like stuff like this and prefer your metal to be more easily accessible, I would recommend you stick to “River of Souls”, “Feed the Fires of Rome”, “Olympus Has Fallen” and especially “Ovoviviparus Serpentes“, which is probably the most “classic” death metal of the album and, coincidentally, also my favorite song.
Is the new album better than its predecessors? Probably yes, but honestly, it’s a hard comparison, since their style evolved so much since then. The older albums are great in their own rights but “River Of Souls” is definitely the next evolutionary step for Surface!
- Marco Bechreiner – drums
- Tom Robinson – lead vocals and guitar
- Tim Broscheit – backing vocals and bass
- Johnny Ritter – guitar
01. E’Ste Il’Thios Cho’Ros
02. River of Souls
03. Ode to the Sun
04. Feed the Fires of Rome
06. Ovoviviparus Serpentes
09. Replace the Immortals
10. Olympus Has Fallen