For 20 years, the band Crossbones has shone on the Albanian heavy/thrash metal sky. Formed in a basement in 1996, they have kept refining their concept of catchy, tough thrash/heavy metal. WWIII is their latest effort, and what an effort it is.
The base line here is heaviness, with riffs chugging along with relentlessly violent abuse of the drums. The vocalist generally shifts between quasi-melodic, thrash metal grunt-singing and melodic heavy metal vox. That’s not the end of the vocal variation. For example, in “Gates” we get a whole passage reminiscent of Nine Inch Nails, where there’s almost a goth vibe to the voice. No soprano stuff, though, these are vocals for MEN!
The music takes an equally wide grip. Sometimes we feel the blasting bursts of early Sepultura, only to be overtaken by a chorus calling Finnish heavy metal (think Sentenced) to mind. Some riffs even have a distinct 90’s death metal sound, and it would probably be possible to keep lining up genres and references for a very long time without exhausting the possibilities. Everything is neatly held together by the production, which is super tight and modern, without becoming too compressed and pointless, as well as the attitude. Which is just generally hard rock and cool.
The ethnic aspect deserves to be singled out, though (it always does, am I right fellows?). Sprinkled throughout the songs are melodies with a very distinct “eastern” flavor, possibly inspired by more traditional Albanian music. Several of the songs also have Albanian lyrics, much like Swedish Sabaton sing in their native tongue, and they work very well. In genres almost completely dominated by the English language, the act of singing in another national tongue in and of itself actually adds some value to the experience.
WWIII is a rockin’ piece of rock, and a thrashing piece of thrash, with many potential uses. If you want to ride your car slowly, but menacingly, I recommend turning on “WTF” on your stereo while gliding past your enemies. If you’re considering a career as an ax-wielding maniac, you could do worse than having “Schizo” as your theme music. If you’re an evil clown – go with “Rise”.