Power Trip may have kicked the door down for thrash’s next wave, but Black Fast are taking it to gnarlier new realms
FROM METALLICA to Municipal Waste, thrash metal has been the boiling-hot lifeblood of our world for more than three decades now. Unlike many subgenres, however, thrash never seems to run out of creative steam or suffer from a lack of fresh takes on that original, immaculate blueprint. Hailing from St. Louis, Missouri, and armed with more face-slicing riffs than anyone could possibly need, Black Fast may not be reinventing the wheel, but their rabid, swivel-eyed and distinctly grubby approach to thrash fucking metal is an invigorating slap around the face nonetheless. So far, the band have found that pretty much everyone is enjoying the experience.
“Let’s just say that over the last three or four years, we haven’t run into a lot of rooms that hated us!” laughs guitarist and frontman Aaron Akin. “We’ve played with various kinds of bands and there’s usually a crossover appeal or connection.”
In the same way Power Trip have endeared themselves to European audiences with a sound that is both fresh and familiar, Black Fast do everything that we require a thrash metal band to do, but without ever losing their own distinctive vibe. New album Spectre Of Ruin owes an undeniable debt to the German thrash scene of the 80s, but there are lots of other, less easily identified influences being hurled into the deafening maelstrom, too.
“I come from Van Halen, Metallica, Pantera and Slayer, but by about ninth grade I was listening to more European stuff,” Aaron recalls. “I was heavily into Kreator as a teenager. Trevor [Johanson, guitar] pretty much exclusively listened to [Dimmu-affiliated black metallers] Old Man’s Child when he was delivering pizza in high school. He was terrifying the neighbourhood! Ha ha ha! But the truth is that we don’t have any restrictions.”
As AAron explAins,
he and Trevor have been jamming together for the best part of a decade. Black Fast was formed in 2010, with no expectations beyond making some cool music and jamming with friends. After releasing a debut EP in 2011 and first album Starving Out The Light in 2013, the band’s music started to be muttered about in music industry circles. Much to their surprise, Black Fast were snapped up by big indie imprint eOne Music, home to numerous modern metal acts, but arguably not the most obvious fit for Aaron’s evil thrash crew.
“I was totally shocked and didn’t really even know what that was gonna mean!” he says, chuckling at the memory. “It was so far outside of what we set out to do, you know? We’d still be doing the same thing in our little town, recording EPs at our local studio. But it’s a very fortunate event that it did happen, because we’ve had all these opportunities that we otherwise wouldn’t have had.”
The imminent release of Spectre Of Ruin looks certain to push Black Fast further towards the metal mainstream, but don’t expect the band to compromise on the brutality of their music or the bleak and bruising ethos that lurks within it. Black Fast’s core message seems to be that mankind will inevitably destroy itself and we probably deserve it. As ever, thrash continues to hit the nail on the head like nothing else.
“If you take a broad view of it, what I try to do is paint an image of despair in general,” he states. “It’s not political and it’s not necessarily about anything that’s happening right now. I’m saying that the whole picture is awful. Anything crazy happening now is just validating what I’m saying and probably connecting dots for people. Mankind will probably destroy itself.”
Black Fast: no compromise,no restrictions