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Self Mutilation
(Listenable Records)

When it comes to extreme forms of Metal, France not necessarily is the country that I immediately have in mind... And apart from the godly MUTILATED / ABYSSALS (whatever happened to them?!), AGGRESSOR, LOUDBLAST and MASSACRA there's hardly been any bands that I really considered worth a mention (ok, I might have forgotten one or two here...). But it seems that I have to add at least NO RETURN to that little list now. I always used to read their name in various publications in the past, but for unknown reasons never cared to listen to any of their previously released four full length albums. That probably could've been quite a mistake if they were of the same class as their newest offering "Self Mutilation". The band plays a very energetic and powerful form of Death / Thrash Metal with strong hints of SEPULTURA during their "Beneath The Remains" / "Arise" period (vocal delivery, riffing and song structuring) and SLAYER (lead guitar work and parts of the riffing). But there's a lot more to discover than just that. Here and there you'll notice some incorporated unique sound samples, the song 'Individual Ideal' was enriched with a moody and pretty atmospheric keyboard middle section and one of the main riffs in 'Fanatic Mind' even reminds me on older DEATH ("Scream Bloody Gore" / "Leprosy" period). And (being a German) of course I pretty much enjoyed the "Eins, zwei, drei, vier..." opening of 'Soul Extractor'... This album crushes most of the modern Swedish Death / Thrash releases that seem to be so popular at the moment and is far more convincing than anything that SEPULTURA have come up with ever since their great "Arise" album.

Frank Stöver

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