Review: No Return – Contamination Rises

Location: Paris, France
Genre: Death/Thrash Metal
Released: December 1991
Format Reviewed: FLAC
Feature: Global Conquest – Diving For Treasure

By: Kris Kotlarik

“Diving for Treasure” is the feature at Over The Seize where I go back and find an album from a band that I have never heard of in the hopes of discovering a hidden gem. I didn’t have to dive very far for this attempt; No Return joins Alcest in the ranks of French metal that I have reviewed to this point.

No Return has released eight albums since their formation in 1989, most recently with their 2012 work, Inner MadnessContamination Rises is their second album; I also acquired Manipulated Mind, their penultimate release from 2008, but chose to go back to the early 90’s for this review.

Contamination Rises sounds like you would expect a 1990’s thrash metal album to sound; the production is quite raw, there is the obligatory short intro (this one has discordant pianos, ghost noises and backward vocals!), and the lyrical themes are fairly typical thrash fare (politics, societal challenges, war, etc.).

What stands out most to me is the frequent use of hi-hat blast beats, and I can’t tell if that’s by design or if the snare drum is just buried in the mix; “Memories” kicks off the album with these blast beats and I can pick up bits and pieces of snare drum, but regardless of the intent, these blast beats stand out in a good way.

The vocals on Contamination Rises sound a lot like Barney Greenway (Napalm Death). The guitars are quite crisp, but there’s not much to find in terms of guitar solos; most of them are brief leads with “Perversion” and “Mass Grave” taking the cake. Bass is nearly unintelligible.

Another quirk that made me take notice right away was the clear resemblence of the intro from “Trash World” to White Zombie’s “Thunder Kiss ’65,” both recorded in 1991.

For me, the standout songs here are “Sacred Bones,” highlighted by a rather ghostly guitar solo; “World of Impurities,” with a creative bridge section; and “Mass Grave,” the fastest track, chock-full of energy. There are bits and pieces of songs that also stand out; the dual guitar lead intro for “Uncontrolled Situation” is a nice touch, and “Sorrow” is an acoustic interlude in a similar vein to Krisiun’s “Black Wind” off of Southern Storm that sets up “Mass Grave” appropriately.

What will ultimately prevent me from giving this a higher rating is a lack of complete songs, with the possible exception of “Mass Grave.” Parts of it were bland, and in several songs (especially album closer “Revolt of the Hanged,”) I couldn’t think of anything to include for reactionary notes. It’s not bad by any means; it’s just not as captivating as it could be.

Overall: Low replay value. I do love those hi-hat blasts, though. 

Rating: 2.5*

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