Turkey's Crossfire released their debut album after playing gigs and releasing demos for years. Aggression Treaty is the result of a variety of influences, ranging from pure old school thrash metal, American style power metal to dark brooding metal in the vein of Nevermore. Two other bands come to mind when listening to this album: earlier Iced Earth with Matt Barlow because of vocalist Bulent Aksoy and mid-90's period Testament (Low album anyone?) because of the somewhat death metal-ish riffing blended with tasteful licks from the likes of Jason Becker and Marty Friedman.
Some people may label this as American power metal, and some may call it thrash. I fall somewhere in between; the band explores heavy thrash on pieces such as "Slaves", "Dream within a Dream" or the merciless "Under Siege", while slower songs in the form of "Inner Conflict" and "...And Darkness Fallin'" recall power metal with their huge melodic choruses. Vokalist Bulent is certainly highly reminiscent of Matt Barlow, but lacks the range. His expressive form of singing, however, makes up for it. The album starts off with a short intro filled with sirens making their way into the first heavy number "Slaves". Though short, it serves its purpose flawlessly giving the listener a good idea of what to expect from Crossfire right from the get-go. Thrashy riffs leave their mark on the song before a mindblowing drum attack works its way in the music engulfed by terrific guitar harmonies. Vocals in the vein of Matt Barlow wrap the song up leaving the listener wanting for more.
And the succeeding tracks deliver! I detect some Middle Eastern flavour in the breakdown of "Eternal Lies (NonServiam)", which, to my dismay, isn't developed further - it would have been beautiful. However, "Dream within a Dream", over seven minutes running time, erases all doubts with its outstanding drum solo in the beginning, followed by more thrash guitars creating a solid tapestry. Drummer Can Besli puts out a hard-to-rival performance laying down killer double-drum bass and a good number of odd metered time signatures. Very, very good indeed. The apex of the song is when an uplifting main chorus soars above all the instruments bringing to mind the majestic choruses on some Iced Earth albums. After a relaxing acoustic melody, Kerem Besli produces a punishing guitar solo with infectious melody and powerful emotion. I've had to hear this solo over and over before I could move on to the next track.
"Nightwolf", "Under Siege" and "Unfair" are less versatile. They're the kind of songs, despite their minimal riffing, that would make a killer job on stage. The guitar work throughout is still challenging, even making me think of Rust in Peace-era Megadeth on "Under Siege", but overall, they're more straightforward compositions. "Inner Conflict" finds the singer doing some really catchy vocal harmonies and features amazing sweep guitar played on the neck of the guitar. After a brief instrumental track ("Gate"), we're face to face with machine gun-like thrash riffage, a sweet tapping melody and crashing guitar lines all over the place! I really have to give both guitarists my two thumbs up - they truly shine on this album.
"Gelibolu" is a WWI-inspired song and symbolises Turkey's war of independence on the west coast of the country. It has a cinematic quality to it during the 'war scene' after the main chorus. It's a personal favourite of mine along with the heart-wrenching power ballad "...And Darkness Fallin'" featuring female vocals in the chorus (again Iced Earth might I add). However, like I already said, you must hear "Dream within a Dream" before you pass judgement on Crossfire's Aggression Treaty.
1. Aggression Treaty
3. Eternal Lies (NonServiam)
4. Dream within a Dream
6. Inner Conflict
7. Gate [inst.]
8. The Forsaken
9. ... And Darkness Fallin'
10. Under Siege
13. Don't Fool Me