Not since Reagan's 'Star Wars' and the nuclear threat of the cold war has the prospect of a dystopian future seemed so near to our present. The climate crisis is a clear and present danger, unrestrained technologies are derailing democracy and infesting our daily lives in insidious new ways. The leaders of the world's biggest powers are all insane in their own way. Most concerning, a pandemic is tearing through the world's population as many shirk precautions, risking crippling society at large. Metal bands have always found dystopia a fertile ground to harvest lyrics. The big four of American thrash metal have all shaped their album's themes around the subject and that has percolated through the rest of the scene. In less turbulent times, these themes were at the least an imaginative extrapolation of current events into the future and at most, fantasies with very little basis in reality. Today, we don't have to extrapolate at all. The heinous and catastrophic events that bands once had to dream up are now the reality in which we are living.

Aukland-based thrash power trio 3000AD have released their debut full-length album The Void, an 8 track collection echoing the insanity of our present. Where the wildest of conspiracies are believed because the old tropes of corporate tracking of the population, constant surveillance, gene manipulation, and fire tornadoes are no longer far-fetched fiction. The New Zealand outfit delivers a snarling powerhouse record that has fun revelling in our inevitable destruction.

The track '3000AD' opens the album in traditional thrash metal steamroller fashion. A 'For Whom the Bell Tolls'-like riff with pinch harmonic squeals and freight train drums. Drummer Hellmore Bones takes the lead on vocal duties with a punk attitude, laying out the scene of a crumbling world in his future hellscape. The au courant moment of the album comes with 'Cells' where Bones investigates these microscopic soldiers fighting a war within us as a steady pumpin' bassline drives the blood through the veins. 80s diatonic guitar leads introduce a swashbuckling 6/8 groove in 'The Network', highlighting an ominous overlord organization. This bleeds perfectly into the album's catchiest track 'Who's Watching'. Guitarist Sam Pryor takes the mood down with a pensive arpeggiated intro before the rest of the band rips into this amped-up look at the era of ubiquitous surveillance.

The B-side of the record kicks off with 'These Fires' no doubt inspired by the fires across the way in Australia earlier this year. The story that at one stage, looked to be the leading story of 2020 (hahaha). Bones looks on with resignation as these fires continue to ravage everything we have left. 'Journeys' shows the band at their most progressive stretching themselves out over seven minutes and laying down more than a couple soaring solos. The closer 'Born Under a Black Sun' also pushes past the seven-minute mark allowing Pryor and bassist Scott Austin to fully develop melodic lines rather than the smash cut approach of the A-side. The final two tracks are 3000AD at their best and are hopefully a sign of what's to come. Progressive metal clothed in the sheepskin of thrash.

The Void scratches that itch for a great thrash record. It hits all those familiar touchstones while looking ahead to the future. The lyrics of dystopian chaos don't take a wild imagination to picture, many of them are happening right now. We're just waiting for the monstrous blob from the cover to show up. 2020 still has three months left...