For us headbanging old farts, "Bay Area Thrash" conjures up a specific mental image, both auditory and visual. This is especially true if you were, as I was, lucky enough to live in the San Fransisco Bay Area in the 1980's and early 1990's when the metal scene here was the center of the necessary counterpoint to the "happy metal" (or in the immortal words of Dee Snider, "teeth metal" - because its practitioners smiled all the time and you could see their teeth) of the LA glam scene and it's spawn. I got to see firsthand the movement that started with underground, self-promoted, unknown bands putting fliers on telephone poles literally take over the music industry and spawn Metallica, who, whatever they have now become, were once a shining example of the best this musical subgenre had to offer.
Sadly, the scene of these years is long dead in the Bay Area. The last really serious "metal club" here, a horrid dive called The Pound, closed last year (but not before I got to see Kamelot there). While a few of the Bay Area bands of the glory days of thrash have either soldiered on after returning to obscurity when the fickle masses moved on (Testament for example) or recently returned to the music of their younger years (Exodus, Death Angel, Forbidden), for the most part, few people who are not scholars of rock music or genre fans would ever know that a polar shift in heavy music took root and grew here. Fear not, however, Bay Area metal is not dead! While there are very few places left here for metal bands to play, great metal bands continue to emerge, though metal is now underground again as it originally was. Sometimes, when you listen to some of them, they can almost make you feel like it's 1985 again.
Imagika are that kind of band. They are not trendy and they are not interested in making music that sells. It's clear that they are making music first and foremost for themselves, not for a chance at the big time. They miss the days when metal didn't have 200 subgenres - when it was just loud, aggressive music, pissed off and proud of it. I've had the privilege of seeing them live several times (most of them at the aforementioned dive metal club, The Pound), and watching them reminds me of shows from the glory years too - they play HARD, just like the bands they are descended from did, in their day. Oddly, they don't sound dated, which given their clear influence (much of it probably firsthand like my own) from early thrash/speed metal, is quite an achievement.
When thrash started to really take off in the late 1980's, major labels started signing any band with guitarists that picked fast and palm muted, saturating the market with soundalike thrash/speed bands, horribly overexposing the "thrash sound" and, as the industry does with virtually everything, killing the product in the process. Somehow, Imagika DON'T sound like they are one of those bands, stuck in a time machine waiting for a record deal - they incorporate more modern sounding arrangements (Nevermore comes to mind) and they don't have vocals that seem like an afterthought to the music, as much 80's thrash metal did. The more recent albums allow them to bring out their more melodic, traditional heavy metal influences, as they changed vocalists and the newer singer gave them a MUCH wider scope as a band. That doesn't entail, as it so often does, that the older albums are the ones that really rock, and the newer ones are where the band "get serious as artists" or some such bullshit (not every thrash band becomes whatever Metallica are now). Imagikas' most recent album has songs as fast and crunchy and thrashy as anything like this you've ever heard, they just now have ear-piercing screams to go along with the razorblade riffs, and it makes a difference.
Here's what some others have said about Imagika albums:
Metal-Rules review of My Bloodied Wings (5/5): "This my friends is an example of a supreme quality metal band who are playing the music they love, to hell with trends...love ‘em or f**k off!!! "
Metal-Rules review of Imagika (S/T) (4/5): "No trendy industrial or alternashit influences mar this recording. If you miss the good old days then check this s**t out!! If you were too young to realize what you have missed then now is your chance. This CD is heavy, aggressive, technical, and has tight playing. It's topped off with a well ranged singer that can sing clear, high and melodic as well as rough, as is the hallmark of many thrash bands. The lead guitarist has awesome chops that blows away many contemporary lead players."
Metal-Rules review of Devils On Both Sides (5/5): "The embodiment of all the true godliness of thrash/power metal is summed up in this band and this album stands proudly as an example to those who think that new thrash bands all have crappy hardcore singers."
Metal-Rules review of And So It Burns (5/5):"This music and this band's sound is not at all dated. Good metal is ageless and their talent is undeniable. If you do not yet know who Imagika are then I pity you. This is aggressive thrash metal, plain and simple. There are some traditional and power metal overtones but at heart this sounds like thrash to me. That means roaring guitars, ripping solos, amazing drums, and screaming vocals."
As you can see, this band has struck some other people who remember the glorious past the same way it has me: they just love that someone, somewhere, is still making music this authentically untrendy and genuine. Listen and enjoy.
This torrent contains:
Imagika (S/T) @ 192Kbps
Worship @ 192Kbps
And So It Burns @ 320Kbps (my rip)
Devils On Both Sides @ 192Kbps
My Bloodied Wings 320VBR