Fifteen years have passed since Angela Gossow popularized female vocals in extreme music, and now female growlers and screamers are very common in every sub genre of extreme metal; The success of the thrashing Nervosa and Cripper, and the low and brutal vocals of Cerebral Bore and Dehydrated are just the tip of the iceberg.

Pokerface are yet another female fronted band to please our ears with some fast and aggressive tunes. Coming from Moscow, Russia, they bring us their debut album “Divide And Rule” – A 100% pure Thrash Metal release, with a strong Old School flavor.

Unlike aforementioned Cripper and Nervosa, Pokerface take their Thrash Metal to its very origins. Influences of bands such as Venom, Sodom, Kreator and Exodus, as well as hints of Punk are clearly heard in their music. “Divide And Rule” is filled with aggressive fast drumming, guitar riffs that alternate staccato down-picking and fast tremolos, and typical Thrash/Death style harsh vocals – Harsh enough even to obfuscate the heavy Russian accent of the vocalist which is clearly heard when she sort of sings/speaks with a clean voice on some parts of the second track of the album. Pokerface definitely doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel, but they do capitalize on the key elements of their style: Speed and aggression.

The production of “Divide And Rule” is yet another factor that contributes to its strong 80’s vibe. Although it can be heard that the album was produced using more modern technologies, the overall character of the sound is akin to early albums of Sepultura, Sadus, Razor, and other fine releases from that period. That implies, obviously, that “Divide And Rule” is in no way “over-produced” – It is a very organic record, that favors authenticity over the typical modern “tightness” of sound and performance, and thus lets through some slight sloppiness in their playing.

While this won’t be a big deal for Old-School purists, more critical listeners that go with the time and expect their Old School Metal to be produced and performed with rhythmic tightness and precision up to modern standards, may not excuse Pokerface for that. That definitely doesn’t mean that the members of Pokerface are not competent enough, but technique and precision is something they certainly should work on and improve in their future releases.

Apart from technical flaws, “Divide And Rule” is a very lively record, fully loaded with that same wildness and energy that made millions of metalheads around the world go wild in the mosh pit in the 80’s. The spirit of that period is reproduced very well in “Divide And Rule” and that makes it a lively and fun album to listen to. Definitely a recommended record for Old School fans (Even the snobbish ones among them).

-Timur Sizov


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