Written by Ellis
Dead Heat – Endless Torment
> Crossover thrash
> California, US
> Releases July 28
> Tankcrimes/Triple B Records
Oxnard crossover thrashers Dead Heat took a marked step up with the release of their 2021 LP World at War. Building on the firm foundations laid across the various bits and pieces they’d released before it – most notably their 2019 debut full-length Certain Death – the Californians polished up the production and dialled up the metal for album number two, whilst crucially keeping their hardcore roots clearly in sight. Their new EP Endless Torment follows a similar path, arguably going “metaller” still and in turn producing a super sharp 18-minute effort that’s right up there with the best thrashings of the year as delivered by the likes of Pest Control, Transgressive, Enforced, and even Drain to an extent.
Even with relatively little time to waste, the band take a second to set the scene with an ominous intro to the opening title track; it’s not a long one though and really just enough to allow the listener to strap themselves in before Dead Heat get to their typically raging business. Tight riffing, harmonised guitars, sudden tempo shifts, and a huge groove that comes in towards the end – none of this should come as much of a surprise provided this isn’t the first crossover thrash record you’ve ever heard, but it is all executed with a proficiency and urgency reserved for the very best.
The band sound fantastic too, as indeed you’d expect given the mixing and mastering efforts of Arthur Rizk (Power Trip, Municipal Waste, Trapped Under Ice), with credit also due to Armand John Anthony of Night Demon for recording. The guitars are sharp and clearly panned, the drums are punchy and propulsive, and even the bass comes through with a nice chunkiness of its own – infamously not always a given in the world of thrash. With vocalist Chris Ramos’ desperate rasp placed neatly on the top, the overall result lands right in the sweet spot for music like this: polished but not lifeless, raw but not a total mess, and ultimately something that gives off a good impression of the band as a ferocious live unit.
While each track has merit of its own – “Smite Thee” and “Eyes of the Real” are both solid antagonistic ragers, for example – it’s the EP’s fourth offering “Tears of the Wolf” that provides the most notable shift in proceedings. It’s still a real thrasher when it wants to be, but it’s also got more of an epic feel that picks up on some of the stuff established on tracks like “Last Call” on the band’s previous record. It’s as fully metal as the band get, with a big guitar intro, a couple of soaring solos, and even some clean vocals all contributing to a well-placed change of pace that combines nicely with the intricately layered acoustic guitar intro to closer “Hard Reset” to significantly increase the level of variation this record has to offer.
THE BOTTOM LINE
At the risk of belabouring the point, if you like crossover thrash you will definitely have heard plenty of records like Endless Torment before, but more importantly you are still gonna absolutely love this. These guys have every essential nailed down, they’ve got riffs coming out of their ears and Rizk’s production makes them sound so crisp and sharp and dangerous that it’s hard to know what else one could ask of them. Perhaps it’s a bit of a stop-gap until their next full-length release but even then it’s hardly a skimpy one and all signs point to a band more than capable of keeping pace with any of the current leaders of the pack you could name.