Metal On Metal Records Review Thrust @ Up The Hammers 2017Next up were US heavy/power veterans Thrust. We saw them once before at KIT and remembered it was a good show. Now they have a new vocalist (Eric Claro, ex-Scarred) who sounds quite different from the guy who sang on their classic album "Fist Held High" (his vocals were reminiscent of Tim Baker's vocals). Eric has clearer voice (with a darker and more epic doomy touch, not far from this of Robert Lowe), which you can also hear on the new tracks they recorded (and played live), but he is versatile and definitely did justice to the old songs too. Very cool and enjoyable gig, and again, many opinions I've seen online show that they were one of the highlights for other people too.

Jowita of Metal On Metal Records (Italy)

You cross the Ocean for the first time today with the THRUST. They are the ultimate incarnation of the dark cult-band, with only three records recorded over thirty years of abundance. But as it often happens to US bands, performance on the stage is truly impeccable, and Gagarin's audience knocks down a heavy metal heavy rain with vague thrash tones. It's no surprise, the pieces of the classic 'Fist Held High' - five out of ten in setlists - to warm up the audience, even if the latest songs do not demean either. Certainly closing with a track called 'Posers Will Die' is probably the best way to embody the underground spirit of the glorious Eighties.

UP THE HAMMERS XII ( Loud & Proud )

There were two bands really standing out this day, and the first was THRUST. I was really looking forward to see them again as they rocked hard at 'Keep It True' in 2016. The new(er) version of the band now has vocalist Eric Claro instead of Andy Beaudry who sang with the band at 'KIT XIX'. The issue I had with THRUST then was that they sounded more like the more modern "Reincarnation" record rather than the old school straight forward sound of "Fist Held High". I mean, they still sounded fantastic but not really as I expected them too. Now though it was a complete smack in the face. Just as some band during the Friday, the frenzy was back. THRUST geared up into overdrive... Ok, "Fist Held High" first, then "Overdrive" and damn, it sounded good. I had a silly smile on my face from the first note to the last of the set. And now the songs from "Reincarnation", first "Scream Girl Scream" and "Wasted" later on, sounded like the old school THRUST we know and love.

As a treat, THRUST also served a few new ones; "The Sorceress" got stuck with its good flow and drive, a good up-tempo track and here Eric's powerful voice come to its right. It all sounded awesome and I can't wait to get to hear the new stuff on record.

It was of course the songs off "Fist Held High" getting the biggest cheering, and towards the end at "Metallic Attack" it was the same fury inside like the previous day. It became clear I wasn't the only one affected by the air inside, or people's hangover was gone (or them getting drunk again is more likely). Another new one in "The Blood King" before THRUST wrapped up their show with "Posers Will Die!" to a cheering crowd.

It's actually a bit crazy that band after band that has been around since the ‘80s can run over the youngsters completely when it comes to energy (NIGHT DEMON excluded) and pure force in their live-performances. THRUST for sure did it too and sounded fantastic while doing it.

UTH XII, Athens Greece ( Metal Kaoz )

In all honesty, Thrust were a big part of the reason why Jen and I were in Milwaukee this weekend. I bought Fist Held High as a wee, impressionable lad, so I’ve known those songs forever, but never got to see the band until last year’s Frost & Fire Festival in California. That night, there was an awkward incident in which guitarist Ron Cooke inadvertently clocked me in the head with his black ESP guitar, rattling a few fillings loose and maybe even knocking some sense into me. He bought me a beer the next day to atone for it, we had some laughs, and we became fast friends. No way I was going to miss Thrust in a rare appearance outside the West Coast. Voltax are not an easy live act to follow, but Thrust proved up to the challenge, and then some. It helps, of course, to have those evergreen Fist Held High tunes up their sleeves. Any set that opens with “Fist Held High” and ends with “Posers Will Die” is guaranteed to be killer. It also helps that Eric Claro is a fine singer, a powerful frontman, and funny as hell to boot (the part where he was trying to kill time during a technical issue with the drum microphones by asking the audience if they knew any jokes was hilarious). But what really makes Thrust excel as a live band is the obvious passion and love they exude for their craft, even after all these years. The smiles on their faces and the intensity with which they rock tell the tale, with Cooke, guitarist Angel Rodriguez, and bassist Ray Gervais in constant motion. Add drummer Joe Rezendes pounding the hell out of his kit, and you’ve got a sure-fire recipe for victory. I loved every minute of Thrust’s set tonight, and was particularly intrigued by the two new tunes (“Sorceress” and “Feel the Pain”), both of which sounded very encouraging. The band assured me afterwards that the new album is well on its way, with optimism for a release date later this year. Let’s hope so. Thrust have a whole lot left to offer the metal world. All you posers better watch out: Thrust are coming for you!!! Setlist: Fist Held High, Overdrive, Scream Girl Scream, Sorceress, Feel the Pain, Thrasher, Wasted, Metallic Attack, Posers Will Die.

True Metal Lives
~ Review by Kit Ekman ~

Talk about Midwest metal legends from the dusty tomes of history…THRUST was all that and more. These Chicago soldiers delivered an iconic album entitled “Fist Held High” all the way back in 1984. For the Bash crowd, it might as well have been 2014. I thought they were actually kind of overrated back in the day but their show tonight was excellent and full of energy for guys in their 50’s. They started their set with “Fist Held High” and continued with classic cuts like “Metallic Attack” and of course “Posers Will Die”. Believe it or not, the band is working on a new album and we heard a cut from it tonight. I was surprised by how down tuned and heavy they sounded. I had the pleasure of talking to them Saturday night in the merch tent, as we heard some great stories of 80’s metal behind the Iron Curtain from Sabi Sabev, the legendary shirt vendor who pops up at all the great metalfests. A bunch of down to Earth guys, I look forward to that new album.

Wormwood Chronicles
by Dr. Abner Mality

The sequel belonged to the American Thrust, and slowly the world began to fill a large part of Gagarin. Our band presented pieces of her latest work titled "Reincarnation," as well as several diamonds from "Fist Held High" in 1984. The world generally had a very positive response to their appearance, especially listening to their old tracks, while the band on the board had a lot of energy and they were all playful, with the singer stealing the show. It was a show that showed to those who watched it play pure pure heavy metal without perfume and perfume. We hope to see them again in our country soon.

Rock Overdose Gr.

THRUST Harvest of Souls
(Pure Steel 2018)

Thrust needs little introduction. After all, the band made an indelible mark in the heavy metal underground back in 1984 with their Metal Blade debut album, Fist Held High, which is rightfully regarded as a minor classic of raw, uncompromising, fist-to-the-face Chicago heavy metal. Songs like the title track, “Metallic Attack,” and “Posers Will Die” are revered in the hearts of many as evergreen, essential ‘80s metal anthems. Only guitarist Ron Cooke remains from that era of the band; however, he moved to Los Angeles, where he has been playing for many years under the Thrust banner with a stable lineup consisting of Joe Rezendes (drums), Ray Gervais (bass), and Angel Rodriguez (guitars). A couple of years ago, vocalist Eric Claro joined the fold, and the fellowship was complete. This iteration of Thrust has become a mainstay on the underground festival circuit, thrilling old fans, converting new ones, and striking fear in the hearts of posers everywhere from Keep It True to Up the Hammers to Frost and Fire and Spring Bash. It was only natural that the topic of new material would bubble to the surface eventually, and now Thrust proudly unveil Harvest of Souls, due for worldwide release on Germany’s Pure Steel Records on April 27, 2018.

In terms of style, Harvest of Souls remains very much true to the original Fist Held High aesthetic. What does that mean? Thrust’s calling card, their claim to fame, was that their music represented traditional metal at its absolute heaviest. Not thrash metal, not death metal, but old-school midpaced metal delivered heavier, heavier than hell (to quote a song from Fist Held High). Back in the day, we used to compare Thrust to a slowed-down, more precise Exciter. Thankfully, all of this still holds true on Harvest of Souls. The first thing that stands out from the time you push play and “Deceiver” kicks in are those monolithic, skull-crushing Cooke/Rodriguez riffs, with a deliciously raw and suitably vicious guitar tone calculated to tear your head clean off. Those riffs meld brilliantly with Gervais’ leaden bass lines (featured prominently in the mix for maximum impact and maximum heaviness) and Rezendes’ pounding hooves to create this lumbering, juddering, lurching beast of metal laying waste to everything in its path. The album’s production is appropriately clear and powerful, allowing each instrument to shine and pummeling the listener in a way that many tin-eared old-school albums these days do not. No punches are pulled, folks. Harvest of Souls is like a bruising heavyweight boxer in a prize fight. It’s here to do damage, and it comes out swinging from the opening bell until the inevitable TKO. Over the top of it all, vocalist Claro’s gritty delivery suits the music well, but exudes just enough melody and personality to set the hooks, reel the listener in and prevent the songs from devolving into a faceless slugfest.

Pre-release singles “Sorceress” (for which a video has also been released) and “Feel the Pain” will be familiar to many Thrust fans because they’ve been featured in the live set for some time. Not coincidentally, they are also two of the more immediately catchy and melodic songs on the album, without sacrificing an ounce of Thrust’s signature heaviness. “Sorceress,” in particular, is one of Thrust’s best tracks ever, just an absolute hammer of a song. Other highlights include opener “Deceiver” and closer “One Step from the Grave,” both of which feature bludgeoning riffs and gang-shouted choruses tailor-made for the live arena. I’ve also grown quite fond of “Kill or Be Killed,” which starts with a rumbling Gervais bass intro then rides a Rezendes stomping drum pattern, an impressive soaring vocal from Claro, and a fist-pounding refrain to the heavy metal promised land. Overall, the material is quite consistent throughout. Thrust are seasoned veterans. They know where their strengths lie, and they stick to what they do best, without any surprises or experiments, unless you count the haunting atmospheric intro to “Shadow of the Cross” (reminiscent of something Grave Digger might do) before yet another scorching riff in the Exciter mold pegs the heaviness factor back to the redline.

If there’s a quibble to be had with Harvest of Souls, it’s that Thrust maybe are a bit too one-dimensional in their mode of attack, with little variation in tempos and song structures throughout the 10-song, 44-minute playing time. At the same time, however, that weakness can also be viewed as a strength because it reveals a purity of heart, a singlemindedness of purpose, and a clarity of focus. Thrust know exactly what they’re doing on Harvest of Souls. Old-school metalheads take note: Thrust are back. With their fists held high, they can take command. And the forecast isn’t looking too rosy for the posers.
Kit Ekman