Reaktion – Learning to Die (2019)

Within this myriad of bands, projects or artists who are forming, living and splitting up for the most part in indifference, finding you ear’s desire has become even more difficult, unless by relaxing one’s requirements. In return, finding a band in the middle of all this mess is all the more rewarding! So with « Thrash fucking metal from Barcelona » as a description which is both simple and raw, well, it’s double or quits. At least, we have the merit of knowing what to expect when we come across REAKTION, a Spanish quintet that is not on its first try since we will focus on Learning to Die, band’s sophomore.

The tracks are easy to listen to and speed in a riff constancy, where rhythm variations are fluid and totally imperceptible. Everything follows in a continuous stream of riffs, and so since the intros which are relatively successful and brought seamlessly, catchy from the first seconds. The songwriting is lined up on a broad guitars domination, supported by a relatively present and influential bass, which is a rather good point here where this instrument is often set back, or even totally untapped, despite its great potential.

Some tracks remind early Metalcore like MERAUDER or SWORN ENEMY, when it was still very much rooted in Thrash Metal. At the same time, although REAKTION keeps a predominant Thrash mark ‒ even if only at a voice level, unlike these mastodons who tend to pull towards Hardcore ‒ the band subtly diversifies towards other genres. Thus, Learning to Die has tunes like AND OCEANS, the introduction of The Great Citizen looks towards Death Metal, C38 reminds us of Steve Vai… when other titles such as A Piece of God Within, State of Hate or Toxic Grandma are closer to the American Groove Metal titans and are lighter in their execution, in that they are less complex and more straightforward.

From this REAKTION’s musical build arises an audience interaction feeling, relatively obvious during the sections preceding the solos and we would almost regret that these riffs are not part of the song’s core. These ones are the most interesting, the most rhythmic and distinguish themselves even more because they raise the tension – damn Sweet Desperation is an ode to the crescendo ‒ largely brought by this considerable string rhythmic, despite a drum set that has difficulties being assertive and remains a timid but effective support.

Too bad, then, despite all this diversity drums are struggling to step out of its comfort zone. The same set returns broadly on the whole tracks and lacking a little boldness in its execution. Likewise with the singer where the choruses, although catchy, are all built more or less on the same structure. When you are able to master a wide vocal spectrum ‒ from the hoarse voice through the high-pitched scream for power, excellent on C38, to the grunt for brutality ‒ while being in a position to modulate and adapt it according to the situation, taking on more risk would have been nice.

What characterizes REAKTION in general is the fluidity of its musical performance, combining several influences and moving from one style to another without veering off from Thrash. In the end, Learning to Die is a straight album, without superfluous, to enjoy off the top of your head just for the pleasure of the Thrash. And all of this feels good in the middle of the current trend full of Technical Deathcore and Post-Black Metal, who prefer to put forward some so-called skills but whose musicality is dull and tame. For their part, the Hispanics play their music uncomplicated, just by sharing their passion. In a nutshell, they have fun! Plus their communicative energy is an eargasm that can be felt both in the studio and, hoping to be able to confirm it one day: live.

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