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I recall reviewing Element's demo EP some four years ago and, while being impressed by their music, was not so taken with the vocals which were patchy to say the least - good in parts but sporadically dire. However, four years is a long time and the Wigan boys have returned with their sophomore full-length album on Casket Music, a follow-up to 2008's self-released 'Under the Influence'. So is 'Corrupt Desires' an improvement over my first encounter with the band's music? Oh fuck yes. While they remain thrash at core with an abundance of palm-muted guitar riffs, Element have diversified their sound with a greater depth and variety in songwriting so pieces such as third track 'Solace' works as an effective alt-rock number in the mould of Alice In Chains. 'Revolution Denied' is also largely devoid of thrash idioms with a lengthy and neatly atmospheric intro of distorted, sustained lead guitar notes over clean, delay-infused parts before the real heaviness kicks in. Am I listening to the same band?! It seems so and, like I said, four years is a long time which Element have evidently spent wisely in both refining and expanding on their established thrash aesthetic. It might be pretentious to label this as prog-thrash or alt-thrash but, effectively, that's what we're dealing with here. And the big question - what of the vocals? Well, pretty damn impressive, it has to be said. Frontman Adam Calderbank has learnt to use his voice to its strengths and vocals are delivered spot-on throughout, ranging from a low, clean delivery over songs' mellower parts to his harsher tones over heavier passages. It all works perfectly. The lead guitar work of Andy Higham is also worthy of mention as his solos are pure class, not to mention the general leads that he cleverly weaves between and layers over Calderbank's rhythm playing. Forget the likes of Evile, Gama Bomb, Bonded By Blood et al from the retro-thrash revival movement that's currently plaguing the scene and go check out Element immediately. What they ultimately offer on 'Corrupt Desires' is a degree of retro-thrash pastiche but so much more besides that makes their second album a riveting listen from start to finish. Highly recommended.
Casket Music
Review by Mark Holmes
30th May 2011
1) The Art of Illusion
2) Corrupted
3) Solace
4) Revolution Denied
5) Urban Assault
6) Dissipate
7) Contemporary Insanity
8) Prophet of Hate
9) Embrace the Ending
"...a degree of retro-thrash pastiche but so much more besides that makes their second album a riveting listen from start to finish."