If heavy metal has a character flaw, generally speaking, it’s the fact that for a genre that loves the grandiose, the performative and the archetypal so much, it can sometimes take itself way too seriously. That’s what makes Anthology of Terror, Vol. 1 from Southern California’s Axeslasher such a filthy, refreshing treat. The old-school thrashers are exquisitely self-deprecating, which increases how much fun their debut is a hundredfold. Full of guts, glory, pizza and babes, Axeslasher revel in their own self-caricature and turn it into an art form. Song titles like “Invasion of the Babesnatchers” celebrate the over-the-top nature of their aesthetic, while the music firmly backs it up. The subject matter is inspired by classic horror and gore imagery, which plays up both the camp quality and the violence. The pitch-perfect audio sample on “Woodland Tortuary” bleeds into the deep, dirty groove of the track, while Justin Lascelle’s shrieked and spat-out vocals are perfectly unhinged. The riffs are heavy and infectious, the drumming punishing, and the production has just the right touch of old-school thrash grit and grime. It’s a tough thing to balance humour with execution, to gently mock while laying waste, and with Anthology of Terror, Axeslasher nail it.