The trouble with American death metal veterans Deceased is, at this point in the game, they’re just too damned good. With the best will in the world, they’ve put together another of their reverent, respectful influence compilations, this time focusing on the influence the then-burgeoning thrash movement had on band mainman King Fowley in the eighties. But, and it’s a big but in my increasingly febrile mind, the music they attack with vigour and vim on Thrash Times… was written, for the most part, by wet-behind-the-ears, wild-eyed kids just starting out on their musical journeys. Here, in 2021, the music is reproduced by highly skilled music industry vets, who can’t help but imbue the piss and vinegar with a little wisdom and a lot more finesse. And that’s a bit of a sticking point for me at least.

That said, it doesn’t stop this from being an unrelentingly great slab o’wax, especially if you were around at the time and just about remember the excitement that hearing these tracks for the first time engendered.

Artillery‘s Into The Universe and a ripping take on Blessed Death‘s Pray For Death are early highlights, with the former in particular hitting the spot in explosive fashion. Fowley’s classic eighties delivery is pitch-perfect every time, hitting that sweet spot between speed metal wailing and death metal growling in high class fashion. The band’s take on Razor‘s Take This Torch is brilliant – better than the original, if we’re being honest, which I like to think proves the point I was trying to make earlier on, with Matt Ibach and Shane Fuegel‘s guitars absolutely shredding the ears.

The second half of the album doesn’t quite suit my personal taste quite so much – although the covers of VoiVod‘s Thrashing Rage (with some splendid drumming from Amos Rifkin) Cyclone‘s In The Grip of Evil and a surprise inclusion of UK thrash chancers Deathwish‘s Demon Preacher are both worth the price of admission.

At the end of the day, you probably shouldn’t listen to old cider-soaked thrashers like me ruminating on whether projects like this have any merit – they have, and if you love old school thrash you’ll love this album. Simple as…