Angelic Encounters originally came out in 2000 (2001 in the USA) – it was Thanatos‘ third album, though they weren’t entirely happy with it at the time, and replaced two members of the band in an effort to get past their misgivings.
More recently, they were signed up to Century Media Records with a view to release a new album on the band’s 30th birthday (2014). It would seem that Century Media have also taken the chance to freshen everyone’s memories of the band with a re-issue of Angelic Encounters.
With their (in)famous status of being the first thrash and death metal group in Holland, Thanatos have some hefty weight on their shoulders to produce good albums. Angelic Encounters was the third record in line to prove their worth. They write oldschool thrash with a death twist. The vocals are similar to Cannibal Corpse, and some of the song titles such as Corpse Grinder and Sincere Chainsaw Salvation definitely point in that gory direction. The music tends to err on the side of Slayer or Kreator, with speed being the main focus.
Obviously, this is a bit of a weird ‘review’ to write because Angelic Encounters has been out for thirteen years. Think of it more as a memory jog for those who grew up with death metal bands like this; or an introduction for those who didn’t. Its more of a precursor to the forthcoming 2014 album (which is as yet untitled) than a necessary addition to existing fans collections’ – unless you’re a particularly hardcore supporter of Thanatos. However, there are seven tracks which didn’t feature on the original album, from Corpse Grinder onwards. Although looking at catalogues, it would appear that Corpse Grinder did appear on some of those editions. I’m not sure, but if you’re a fan, I’m sure you can figure it out.
The extra tracks don’t swerve at all from the classic thrash/death outlook, delivering another round of brutality which will leave your neck feeling worn out and your energy used up. Bearing in mind this album is thirteen years old, it doesn’t exactly give anything new, and it would be unfair to judge it solely on the bonus tracks. But it does feel old, in the sense that death metal has moved on in general from the oldschool sound.
This album really shows that Thanatos were offering material which could have easily become classic thrash material if it wasn’t overshadowed by larger bands who didn’t go on hiatus – such as Slayer or Metallica. Thanatos were inactive between 1992 and 1998, and Angelic Encounters was the first album to be released after that break. But prior to ’92, they had been pleasing the underground scene with their first two albums, Emerging From The Netherworlds and Realm Of Ecstasy, while performing alongside metal acts as large as Death and Bolt Thrower.
So it’s a throwback, and as a re-issue I feel a little bit odd about ‘scoring’ it as such. But worth picking up if you’re a fan of some of the other bands mentioned in this article. What you should be taking away from this, is that 2014 will see a brand new release from Thanatos, which is going to be far more exciting than the republication of their back catalogue.
For Fans Of: Slayer, Morbid Angel, Cannibal Corpse, Kreator.