Mutant have just completed a UK tour with Huddersfield thrash metal four-piece Evile and, judging by the strength of this thrash-tastic self-released effort, they must have gone down very well indeed.
Stand out track is 'Turbo Hyper Ultra Mega Power,' not only because it has one of the most ridiculously over-the-top titles you're ever likely to encounter, but because it actually lives up to its moniker.
Lightening-paced drum-rolls, galloping guitars and a boozy, thrashy swagger are spiked with mind-boggling, two-thousand-miles-an-hour shredding that has to be heard to be believed. It's remarkable that Mutant manage to hold it all together. This rocket-paced racket is always tuneful and coherent, even when the drummer is flinging out steroid-fuelled drum-rolls left, right and centre.
The vocals will be a major obstacle for some, but frontman Tom Luchtenstein actually does one of the most convincing and cheese-free vocal-chords-possessed-by-Satan acts you're likely to hear on the thrash circuit.
With a chorus that's custom-made to shout along to, and riffs designed to incite mosh-pit madness, 'Turbo Hyper Ultra Mega Power' does exactly what it says on the tin.
The rest of this EP sticks to the 'Turbo Hyper Ultra Mega Power' formula, but never quite matches it in terms of fun-filled, thrash aggression.
EP-opener 'Scrap Brain Zone's chorus of "scrap! Brain! Zone!" is unlikely to win them any awards for lyrical wizardry, but it's custom-made to shout along to. Mutant's wonderfully dumb lyrics are delivered with more frantically squealing guitars and wrist-snapping drumbeats.
The highlights are a clutch of massive, hunkering riffs that crop up post-first verse, and during the bridge section. They have such a whining, sawing edge, they're like a sound effect from an old gaming system.
Title track 'Laserdrome' serves up more of those oddly electronic-sounding riffs that'll make you think of Ataris and Commodore 64's. They bring some much-variety to Mutant's thrashy hardcore which is, by its very definition, always going to sound rather samey. Shouty secondary gang vocals also give 'Laserdrome' a bit of its own identity.
However, despite the adrenaline-fuelling gang vocals and computer-game riffs, 'Laserdrome' is the weakest of the four tracks, lacking that tight, underlying coherency that made 'Turbo...' such a great track. 'Laserdrome' is a relentless drumbeat with bursts of hammering riffs, and whining, game-aping guitars tacked on seemingly at random. It has all of the required fury and speed, but it lacks that single-minded drive.
EP-closer 'Rauncher' takes it down a notch for the verses, so it's fast, instead of frighteningly fast. A swaggering behemoth of a song, 'Rauncher' alternates between verses of chuggy riffs spiked with squealy chords, and furious choruses of garbled main vocals and triumphant, shouty gang vocals. This is the song that pulls things back a bit. 'Rauncher' is the sound of chaos that may only be barely contained, but is contained nonetheless.
Mutant's 'Laserdrome' EP is four tracks of snarling thrash played at a fittingly ferocious pace. Plenty of shout-along choruses and furious instrumental passages suggest this is a band who know it's the live arena where they'll win their fans.
Thrash, like hardcore, is always going to be in danger of sounding very similar but, on 'Turbo...' and 'Rauncher' in particular, Mutant manage to crowbar some of their own personality inbetween those runaway-train riffs and rumbling drumbeats.
Mutant are probably a band who are going to be making waves in thrash circles in 2009.