These days, when every young thrash band wants to be Exodus or Vio-Lence, it's refreshing to hear a San Francisco group like Light This City that doesn't sound like it's from San Francisco. Nope, it's a far more global metallic buffet spread out on the band's fourth (and final) album Stormchaser, with riffs purloined from all pockets of the polkabeat's metallic empire and beyond. The album starts strong, with two slithery waltzes of skintight Lamb of God riffery. At the Gates/In Flames' American offspring own the patent on "The Anhedonia Epidemic" and the riff-rocking chorus to "Beginning With Release;" Testament's Chuck Billy guests on "Firehaven," a pretty kicking Bay Area thrasher. Murray and Smith would be proud of the dual-guitar Nintendo gallop on "Wake Me at Sunset."
Songwriting separates good modern thrash from the un-good, and despite the multitude of directions they point, Light This City's tunes connect more often than not. These fuckers are TIGHT, too. Still, there's something keeping Stormchaser from burrowing into my heart. My guess is that Zach Ohren's mix is too frictionless to carry the energy that this band is capable of. Vocalist Laura Nichol spews spittle-encrusted venom like a female John Tardy, and she deserves thick, juicy cuts of meat to chew on instead of the carpaccio guitars she's got here, especially on the brighter, more melodic numbers. As a result, Stormchaser is a pleasant 50-minute diversion, but doesn't leap out of speakers like it should. Too bad Light This City broke up before they could best it.