Category Archives: Thrash Metal

Razormaze – Miseries [Review]

Now, I don’t want to make it a habit to review EPs of bands all the time, but I’ve made an exception due to a special request. So, let’s talk about Boston-based Razormaze‘s new (free!) EP Miseries. The EP was released unto the word on April 27th through the band’s Bandcamp page.

Miseries by Razormaze

So, I’ve been listening to these guys a lot, including seeing them multiple times live, since before their first full-length, The True Speed of Steel (which I reviewed) back in ’09. Needless to say, I was quite surprised when I heard Miseries. Where The True Speed of Steel was a bit silly and funny at times, there’s little fun to be had with this EP. It’s foot-to-the-throat for all three songs, which is both good and bad. The most endearing part of Razormaze’s first full-length was how fun it was, which at times overshadowed the over-the-top attitude of the band members. It’s nice to know, however, that the guys can make music that’s more serious, though (which helps them avoid being treated like band who rely on schtick to be successful).

In terms of the music and production, though, it’s another stretch in the right direction for Razormaze. It’s still full of catchy riffs and melody lines everywhere, and the guitar solos just keep improving. A lot of people criticized Alex Citrone’s vocals on The True Speed of Steel (I always thought they were great), and he’s stepped up his game as well. The only real downside I can see to the new stuff is that they’ve started to wander away from their very unique brand of thrash in favor of a less original and more traditional thrash sound (which, if you think about it, might not even be a negative).

Regardless, Miseries does just what a good EP should do – shows promise of forthcoming new material and gets the mouths of ravenous fans watering.

Since there’s only three tracks, I’m not going to give the EP a rating or make track selections, but I’ll say it’s definitely worth checking out. You can grab a copy for free from the band’s Bandcamp page in just about any format you like.

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Razormaze – The True Speed of Steel [Review]

Razormaze has burst onto the New England metal scene with their first full-length release The True Speed of Steel, released by Hold True Recordings.

razormaze the true speed of steel

Thrash. Fucking. Metal. Those are the only three words you need to describe The True Speed of Steel. Regardless, I’ll give you some more insight.

From start to finish, this album rips open new assholes, bangs heads, and every other awesome metal cliché in the books. The album starts off on a really odd note, with a great bass groove – then shreds all over your face and moves onto some glorious riffage. The album traverses through anything and everything you have ever heard in a thrash metal song (from all corners of the thrash metal universe: teutonic, bay area, crossover, etc.). The album even has the wild west “showdown whistle” played on guitar in one of their songs (“Desperado”).

Thinking as has hard as I can, I cannot come up with a suitable comparison for Razormaze. They draw influence from early Metallica records, but are not nearly as long-winded in style. At times a Kreator influence is present, sometimes more of a Testament influence. I think, all-in-all, the closest relatable band to Razormaze would be Nuclear Assault – the problem is that Razormaze have only one album, and it is much better than any release Nuclear Assault ever put out.

Eight songs and 32.5 minutes after starting the The True Speed of Steel, I found myself at a loss for words. So much awesome had been pounded into my ears I knew not what to do, but listen again. Five times. This album is a perfect mix of shredding, great lyrics, gang vocals, riffage, and thrashing to quench the thirst of any metal fan, certainly anyone who considers themselves a thrash metal connoisseur.

A perfectly recorded, performed, and mastered album – this is an absolute must-have. It is amazing to think that this is the band’s first full-length (they only had one EP before this album). Barring any sort of huge catastrophe, this band really could make some waves. Needless to say, I am a “Slave to the maze.”

Track picks: “Slaughterotica” and “Slave to the Maze”

Overall score: 10/10 devil horns

GO BUY THIS ALBUM. I can assure you will not regret it.
(click the album art above, it will take you to the webstore)

The resurgence of thrash

For quite some time now, true thrash metal has been almost non-existent. In parts of the country, in the underground scenes, and even in the mainstream, more bands are bringing it back. From the big Thrash bands back in the day (Sepultura, Metallica, Anthrax, Megadeth, Slayer, Exodus, Overkill, Kreator, etc.), few are still active AND still making thrash metal. While thinking about thrash metal without the legends who made the genre what it is makes metalheads sad, there is still a lot to look forward to.

thrash metal bands

If you look around on MySpace music through the “Thrash” genre tag you will find many things, most of which are not thrash. Some things that aren’t even metal. If you look deep enough, there is some good old thrash metal to be found. Most of these bands were either around in the 80’s, or are made up of teenagers who look and act like they were teens in the 80’s. Fatal, Ravage, Evil Army, and Razormaze are just a few of the up-and-coming young thrash bands out there. It’s not just the new guys, either. Slayer is still going strong, Metallica’s Death Magnetic was clearly turning more toward their old school sound, and Kreator just started a summer tour with Exodus – all well known bands in the thrash scene from the 80’s.

Given all the changes going on in metal, perhaps the resurgence of traditional thrash is the largest. Instead of bands like Shadows Fall, Chimaira, and Unearth adding the “trash” tag onto their music, real thrash bands are taking it back. A lot of more mainstream bands have been trying to bring the thrash sound to their band, like Bullet for my Valentine, Machine Head, and Trivium. Tough to say where it goes from here, but it seems as though thrash will soon be back again, and in a big way.

(disclaimer: I did not make the image above, nor am I taking credit for it – here is where I found it)

Metallica – Master of Puppets [Retrospective]

Master of Puppets, Metallica. Just thinking of this album is metal. Master of Puppets is arguably the most famous and influential metal albums of the 80’s (and all time). Sure, there was Reign in Blood, Number of the Beast, Operation: Mindcrime and others, but none of those albums were comprised entirely of iconic songs, nor are they as easily heard throughout modern metal music.

Metallica Master of Puppets album cover

When you think of the big four in Thrash metal, each band really has their magnum opus, all of which are legendary in the metal community. For those uneducated in the lore of metal, the big four in thrash are/were: Anthrax, Megadeth, Slayer, and Metallica. Among The Living, Rust in Peace, Reign in Blood, and Master of Puppets are the bands’ best albums (respectively). All undeniably great albums, but none with quite as much clout and following as Master of Puppets. None of the other albums are as complete, either. Longer songs, bigger solos, more memorable hooks and riffs, better production, and just as pissed off.

The best (and perhaps most ironic) part about Master of Puppets is that the three best songs on the album were co-written Cliff Burton. This is unsurprising if you know about Burton’s history, and how he helped James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett how to theorize and harmonize. As Hetfield says, “without Cliff, we wouldn’t be where we are today.” Beyond the songs co-written by Burton, each songs brings a lot of technical prowess and songwriting ability to the album. One of Metallica’s most popular songs, “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)” perhaps is a prime example of this. “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)” has a unique song structure, beautiful (and skillful) solos, and among the greatest metal guitar tones ever used. The thing is, every song has most of these elements, showcasing them in a different manner every time – making for an extremely fresh and interesting listen no matter how many times you do so.

A must-have for every good metal collection, and a must-hear for anyone who wants to like metal, Master of Puppets is nothing short of iconic. It is Thrash metal, and then so much more. Unlike the the other bands in the big four, Metallica (and this album especially) have the ability to appeal to metalheads of every type and age.

Track picks: All of them, fool.

Overall score: 11/10 devil horns

Relentless – Brother Von Doom [Review]

Relentless is the first full-length studio release from Deathcote records’ own Brother Von Doom. Released September 23rd, 2008.

Brother Von Doom Relentless

From start to finish, this album is a terrifying adventure through some pissed off, face-smashing riffage and solos. The opening track, “Barbarian Destroyer” starts out with some chugging and doom-impending symphonic leads. That’s the last part of the album that isn’t 110% shred. “Eater of Days” is the next track on the album, and starts out with some staccato riffs, and thus the adventure begins.

The vocals on the album aren’t all that good, however, with some of the worst enunciation I have heard in a while (at it’s worst at the beginning of “Eater of Days”). The timbre of Wilson’s growls are great however, and so are his higher pitched screams. seems to have the full arsenal of harsh metal vocal techniques, as well as the range.

The absolute best part of this album though, are the most pissed-off and brutal guitar parts I have ever heard (or, close to it at the very least). As I mentioned before, Relentless is a non-stop barrage of rape-tastic riffs, that will make you want to punch babies or something. Then there are the blistering guitar solos all over the place. The only thing missing as far as guitar goes are sections with chords in them. It’s an all-out riff-fest, all the time. I personally enjoy it a lot, but it leaves the album a bit empty at times, and makes the album seem shorter than it really is (it clocks in at around 37 minutes). Without breaks in the shredding, it all starts to sound the same by the time the end of the album rolls around.

As unrelenting and unidimensional the album it is, it’s still a great listen. What it is lacking simply seems to be the style of what they were aiming for anyway, similar to the Lamb of God approach. A good mix of thrash, technical death, deathcore, and a few other metal sub-genres, Brother Von Doom have found a sound uniquely their own. One hell of a first full-length, that’s for sure.

Track picks: “Judas Kiss” and “Echoes of the Undead” (though, there is not a single weak track on the album)

Overall score: 8/10 devil horns

Wrath – Lamb of God [Review]

Wrath is the fifth full-length studio album by southern metalers Lamb of God. Released on February 24th under Epic Records, Roadrunner Records outside of North America.

lamb of god album art

Wrath. There’s a lot of things that have been floating around with album, and there’s been quite a fair amount of buzz (unsurprising since Lamb of God are of the most famous metal bands in the US today). Randy Blythe hasn’t said much about the album, other than it’s not going to be a slacker album, and will be much heavier than recent released by the Virginians.

Wrath is quite clearly and emphatically a Lamb of God album. They have not changed their sound much at all really, but they have stepped it up a notch (or, a few notches from Sacrament). The guys seem to be in tip top metal shape for this effort, and I can really appreciate it.

As far as Lamb of God goes, there are really two “eras” – the early days and the later stuff. The first two albums were really rough and abrasive, and didn’t really have great production. The later two albums lost most of the abrasive sound for more groove riffs and stellar production. Wrath really is a genuine example of the perfect middle ground of these two. Lamb of God have gotten back to the face-tearing, genital-crushing sound they used to have, except it no longer sounds as though it was recorded in a tin can.

The album starts out with a very cliché acoustic guitar part that is okay. From there, they kick in the guitars with overdrive with the heart-wrenching weepy guitars. Just like every other metal album before it (fine, that’s an exaggeration, but we have all heard this a thousand times). While cliché, this is totally different than anything Lamb of God has delivered us before. The track immediately following it is similar, where we get to hear some vocal timbre that Blythe has not used. From the start it is quite obvious they’re taking Wrath in a different direction.

Following the tastes of new stuff are the first singles from the album, “Contractor” and “Set to Fail” – these songs are more up Lamb of God’s alley, and sound like something that could have been lifted straight from As The Palaces Burn or Ashes of the Wake. The rest of the album is still obviously Lamb of God material, but seems to have a bit more attitude and “fuck you” to it.

The last track on the album, “Reclamation” is a great pure metal ending track for an album. The sound of the crashing waves in the beginning/end paired with the down-tuned acoustic guitars is a great sound. A 7:05 epic to close out the beast that is this album, and it is more perfect than I could have ever imagined, employing a lot of interesting guitar work not featured in the rest of the album – from the harmonies to the melodies, it all has a different mood about it, perhaps one of a less aggressive and hateful mood, but more of a depressed yet hopeful mood.

As far as instrumentation goes, Chris Adler is bringing it as hard as ever on this album, and keeps climbing the ranks of metal drummers out there today (still has a long way to go, however – gotta get some speed and more technicality in there). Willie Adler and Mark Morton really aren’t impressing me any more than before, other than the guitar work in “Fake Messiah” – now that’s some good work, boys. Speaking of guitar work, there are some damn fine solos on this album. The best of said solos appear in “Set to Fail” – that solo melts face.

All in all, this album is the best effort from Lamb of God to date, in my estimations. They have finally gotten their sound down, and it feels so natural, as opposed to the forced feel of Sacrament and the practice-session feel of New American Gospel. From start to finish, this album delivers the goods – in a coarse and brutal package. Wrath is right, Lamb of God – you nailed it on this one.

Track picks: “Set to Fail” and “Broken Hands”

Overall score: 9/10 devil horns

Throwdown – Venom & Tears [Review]

Venom & Tears is the fifth full-length release from California metal band Throwdown. The album was released August 7, 2007.

Throwndown Venom and Tears

Funny story about the album artwork, when they released the CD, all the booklets had two small holes punched where you see the bite marks on the girl’s neck. In fact, every other page in the booklet has a picture with bite marks, each of which lines up with the holes. Sure, it’s gimmicky, but it’s fresh, and I for one happen to like it.

Now, onto the actual album. I am very hesitant to say this, but when people say this album sounds like something from Pantera, they’re right. It’s take straight out of Dimebag, Phil, and the gang’s playbook. Obviously, it’ not as good as most of the Pantera stuff that people know, but it is better than their old, lesser known stuff.

The album begins with the first single from the album, “Holy Roller” wish starts of with a fast, brutal thrash guitar part, something straight out of the 80’s, then you hear the first glimpse of the “Pantera sound” from the guys. The vocals are spot on for a Phil Anselmo vocal track. sans the incredible wailing that Phil could once do (sadly, he is now incapable of such awesomeness). The problem I have with the track, though, is the TERRIBLE mastering that was done to it. Directly from the CD it has avery muddy, bass-heavy sound.The one song that seemed to be the exception of poor mixing, however, was “I, Suicide”. It was still very bass-heavy, but not muddy. The highs from the symbols were very crisp, unlike all the other songs, as was the vocals. It was quite refreshing, pairing that with the fun use of stereo on the track. During the chorus, the lyrics are “I, suicide” and each word is on a different channel (and track, for added effect). VERY cool.

Anyway, the mixing seemed to be a pretty consistent problem throughout the album, although it was at it’s worst during “Holy Roller”. The latter half of the album has considerably better mastering, but it is still quite bad compared to anything reasonable. The other qualities of the sound are pretty good, though. The guitar and vocals especially. The timbres work very well together, and sound very brutal and brash – just right for a thrash metal album.

The songwriting on this album is quite, shall I say, formulaic? There are no songs that really deviate from they typical thrash metal song style: raw riffage, pounding rhythms, growling verses, powerful choruses, and some solos here and there when appropriate. This is not a problem, however. True thrash metal albums these days a few and far between.

To be honest, I really didn’t want to like this album. It sounded like crap from the beginning, and just pissed me off. Then a thought occurred ‘Wow, this album really did it’s job.’ It’s fast, it’s angry, it’s brutal, it’s balls to the wall, it’s in your face, it’s [insert metal cliché here], etc. I was once told something that is very much in effect for this album: “The closer something comes to perfection, the more glaringly obvious it’s imperfections become.” I can’t remember where I heard it, but it’s true. There are so many things that this album does right, it’s really obvious where it went wrong.

Track picks: “Holy Roller” and “Godspeed”

Overall score: 8/10 devil horns