Thrash metal is a genre with many big names in it from bands like Exodus, Testament, Metallica, Slayer…the list goes on but there are always bands from those eras that some seem to either forget or just not talk about unless you are part of the underground. That goes for Tokyo’s United. Started in 1981, the group started as a Judas Priest cover band (hence their name) but then adopted thrash influences by the time they released their debut, which featured original material.
The last United album was Tear of Illusions back in 2011 and with the unfortunate passing of longtime member Akihiro Yokoyama, many began to doubt any future releases. Released last year, Absurdity sees the return of vocalist Masatoshi Yuasa and also the return to their roots in many ways. This seems to be the most straightforward thrash metal album they have done since possibly the Human Zoo album, and Yuasa’s vocals have likewise moved more in the vein of those early albums as well. To be fair, this is not completely a throwback thrash album. The production is very clean and the more modern groove influences certainly are still around, but more in the realms of recent Exodus.
Nearly every track on the album is a fast tempo thrash anthem with just a few exceptions. The short intro contains spoken word and a small bass passage that was written by Yoko before his passing. “Dead by Dawn” and “Empty Eyes” are more mid-paced groovy numbers, the former of which does pick up to become thrashier while the latter somehow works a beautiful piano piece into the middle of the song. “May” is the most unusual track as it is a very melodic piece sung by guest vocalist Anza. There really is no thrash to be found here and I would never guess it was a track by this band, on this album if someone had played this alone for me.
The remaining six tracks sound like they could have been written for one of the first two albums if it were not for the excellent production quality that accompanies them. Absurdity flows very well from beginning to end and really stands as a great piece of work. Since Human Zoo, this stands as their second masterpiece album. United have made a stellar comeback and if you are a fan of thrash metal done right, then check out this album!
Overall Score: 9.0/10
Review by Neil Andersen