Tag Archives: thrash

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

God Forbid – Earthsblood [Review]

Earthsblood is the fifth studio album from Century Media thrashcore band God Forbid. This is the follow up to their very strong release IV: Constitution of Treason – an album that received very good reviews, but did not generate a large amount of buzz. Eathsblood released February 16, 2009 in Europe and February 24, 2009 in North America.

God Forbid Earthsblood

In stellar metal fashion, this album opens with a nice piano/orchestral piece to set a very dark, foreboding mood, about :30 into the song, — cue the big distorted guitar chords and melodies. As always, it sounds awesome. The best part about this song is that during the latter half, the guitars are mixed very low, and and shredding all over the place. It’s slightly difficult to hear, but they are there. After setting the mood, we’re back to the God Forbid we know and love (or not love, if you happen to hate the band). It is unmistakable, yet, the execution seems to be a bit more spot on this time. In previous efforts, it was chugging guitars, blistering solos, and the same monotone screams for a vast majority of the album. This album goes with a major direction change in that regard. There are much more varied vocals, with varying levels of heat, and the clean melodic vocals are much improved from previous efforts. The first example of this is :50 into “The Rain”, the second track on the album. This section, however, is just a taste. There are many good clean vocal melodies strewn about the album. Possibly what I consider to be the strongest element to the album.

The second area that surpasses the average God Forbid repertoire are the guitarists. They chose to vary up the structure and style of their solos on this album, most noticeably the solo half way through “The Rain” (there is a lot to be be said about this particular track). Beyond this track, there is little to nothing new from God Forbid. All the same chugging guitar riffs and monotone screaming, which is fine. The song structures are varied, there are some great clean vocal parts mixed in, and keeps attention well.

The next notable song on the album is “The New Clear” — this song is pretty different from the usual God Forbid schtick. This song is plain and simply a metal song, and has a very vintage feel. Guitar solos abound, almost no chugging, no broken rhythms, and this vocals are spot on for classic metal.

The easiest way to tell, for me anyway, that God Forbid are doing something a bit different is to look at the length of the songs. There are only three tracks on the album that top off at less than five minutes, one of those being the album intro. Five tracks on the album top off at over six minutes, including the whopping nine minute long title track, “Earthsblood”.

All in all, this album is fairly spectacular, and will more than feed the aural desires of old God Forbid fans, and I have the feeling they might garnish a whole bunch more fans in the near future.

Track Picks: “The Rain”, “The New Clear”, and “Walk Alone”

Overall Score: 9 out of 10 devil horns

Gojira – The Way of All Flesh [Review]

The Way of All Flesh is the fourth full-length album from French band Gojira. Set to release October 13th in Europe, and October 14 in the United States. This is their second release on world-wide label Prosthetic Records, the third with French label Listenable.

Gojira the Way of All Flesh

First of all, I just want to say that this is a band that does not get the recognition it deserves. I really hope that this album will serve to change that.

The Way of All Flesh seems to have picked up right where From Mars to Sirius left off, almost literally (specifically note the guitar in the opening part of “Oroborus” and the end of “Global Warming”. This is most definitely a good thing, because From Mars to Sirius was one serious progressive death metal album. From their first album on, this band has gotten noticeably better. With From Mars to Sirius being one of my favorite albums as of late, I was very excited to put this one on.

In terms of the album’s structure, there are no problems. I would not say it is a strength either. Interestingly enough, the album’s first single does not appear in the first 3/4 of the album. It is in fact the third to last track, which is something I have not personally encountered very often. The single is an interesting choice, in my mind, however. It is very much unlike most of their music, whereas a lot of their other stuff was very quick-paced, and involved a lot of speed, half of “Vacuity” is slow, and pulsing – then moves to some familiar stuff – then changes to unfamiliar territory once again. A great track all in all, but a surprising choice and placement on the album.

The two main strengths of this album are it’s consistency and strength of the individual songs. Excluding “The Way of All Flesh”, “A Sight to Behold”, and “The Silver Cord” any of the tracks on this album would have made a solid single. The non-single-worthy tracks, however, are almost essential to the album itself. Each provides a fair change of pace, and a break of the monotony that Gojira can become.

The fact that each song on the album is quite distinct is what separates it from From Mars to Sirius, which could really be the only real difference (aside from the obvious fact that the songs are not exactly the same). On From Mars to Sirius all of the songs sort of blended together after a few listens, whereas this is not the case on The Way of All Flesh.

On a more technical note, the production quality of this album is absolutely perfect. The mixes range quite differently at times, sometimes being guitar heavy such as the track “The Art of Dying” but are also very balance at times, such as the track “Esoteric Surgery”. The one thing I noticed that I really like, though some others may dislike, is the volume of the snare drum and toms. I liked the fact that they were fairly loud in the mix for almost the entire album. They have such a bright, crisp sound that adds a lot to the songs that have such a dark sound. The best example I noticed of this is in the track “Yama’s Messengers” where each snare hit is very clear and obvious in the mix, bringing attention from the constant grind of the guitar and bass drum parts.

With a fresh batch of brutal songs, Gojira has put together a very strong fourth release, and in my opinion their best to date (inches out From Mars to Sirius by a nose). While staying in-character and using slow triplets and grinding guitar sections, they have added a few small dimensions to the mix that only help make the listener appreciate the things that make up what Gojira are known for. Where the band goes from here in unknown to me, but I can almost say for certain that it will be good.

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