Review by Richard Henry for MPM
Here we have a reissue of the band’s debut album from 1989, coming in on the back of what would be the third wave of bay area thrash, I think these guys got overlooked a bit and aren’t really a part of the conversation, mainly because they changed style after this album into a more Infectious Grooves, Fishbone, funk metal with a hint of what Suicidal would do in certain parts later on
Track 1 – State of Mind
From those first chord stabs and the other guitar playing a melody line you know what this is, lovely driving riff with a nice sweep picked solo, nice solo section before we hit the vocals, clean vocals, they remind me of Sean from Violence except a bit lower but that style of delivery, the chorus itself picks up pace a bit but has a mix of low vocals and higher parts, I love the way they are shifting the tempos in verse 2, nice breakdown part before you hit the solos, love the little melody harmony line after the first solo before you break into the riff and vocals and then the drums slam in again, then after the last chorus we have another breakdown riff with the drums half timing, that’s a pit moment right there!
Track 2 – Spectacle of Fear
Nice drum fill intro to introduce up to a nice down picked riff, more mid-tempo, very Exodus with these gang style vocals as well, really like the little fill harmony parts along with that main riff, the drummer is getting his fills in on this one, lots of little rolls and cymbal chokes, great descending intro lick to that solo, plenty of ability shown on display, actually reminds me of James Murphy on that second part of the solo, and they die, and that’s it over!
Track 3 – Every Days a Holiday
Ok, so here is where things get a bit different, immediately we are hitting a more funk metal style, one guitar playing those Nile Rodgers choppy chords and the other guitar with the chugs, Dj scratching and a vocal delivery that reminds me of Mike Patton crossed with the Chilli Peppers, and of course in the middle we get the bass guitar break over the funk drums before we pick up into a thrash tempo for the solo section which again is first class, another great set of solos, it’s a decent enough song on its own, does it seem out of place against the other tracks, yeah a bit?
Track 4 – Spellbound
Another drum intro into a descending chromatic riff, into an almost Am I Evil style mid-tempo chugger, there are cool little bass parts going on under that main riff, when we hit into the pre chorus and chorus we get more of the gang style vocals peppering the part, the tempo properly kicks into thrash pace for the solos, the riff under that solo is proper nasty and then it modulates for solo two, first solo is a yes, the second is a bit of a noise fest, then we are back into the gang vocal chorus again and a cool variation on the intro and out!
Track 5 – Sever and Splice
Another mid-tempo, cool spinning riff dancing around a chugging open string before we get a bit of movement going into the chorus and yet again, we have the gang vocals coming in for the chorus section, some really nice bass playing just before the solo, it’s a bit hidden in the mix to be fair but some nice stuff played in there, another great one two punch solo, very Testament, you can tell one of the guys is the shredder and the other is a bit more on the melodic side, nice tempo change to half time in that third verse, and then back into the chorus, picks up the pace and then this one fades out
Track 6 –The Artist
An almost progressive rock style intro with that guitar line straight into a riff that sounds very early eighties power metal to me, like early Vicious Rumors or Savatage, it’s a really crisp production on this an almost classical style descending melody, before the tempos shift and we are back in the mid-tempo area for the verse and then a pickup in tempo, again there are some decent bass lines under the chorus but they are quite hard to make out at times, that end pick up riff is pretty savage, when these guys do pick up the tempo they sound great but a lot of the songs are still sticking to that mid-tempo type pacing!
Track 7 – Shatter
Now that is pure Testament, that slow opener with the drum fills and the tremolo Kerry King style dive bomb solo, again we are in the middle ground with the main riff which is intricate enough when they play the fill parts around it, good chorus, that one will stick with you, simple and to the point, now that is a weird solo, almost like Steve Vasi snuck his way into the start of that one before normal service resumes as the tempo picks up, nice double bass additions towards the end of the solo, back into the chorus!
Track 8 – Reckless Abandon
Oh, I love that intro and the harmonized line along with it, this is like an almost shuffle feel at the start of it, into a great harmonized lead line, then it breaks down to a stop before a really nasty riff kicks in, I was expecting this to really launch in but it sticks in the mid-tempo again, the album really hasn’t moved too far and that is at this point proving to be an issue, there isn’t a lot of variety, again more gang vocals for the chorus, the formula is really apparent, another good solo, nice follow from the bass again in this, verse, chorus and we are out!
Track 9 – Superfreak
I’m, just going to say this, NO, sorry but this is awful!
Track 10 – Numb
I am numb after that last song, slow intro with more harmonized guitars with the drummer getting to stretch with a few fills, great soaring solo at the start of this one, more a traditional metal intro than anything in this before we kick up the tempo for this and its fantastic and brutal and just what I wanted more of on the other songs, it does half time it going into the pre chorus before picking up again for the chorus and into the verse, love the almost odd time section after the second solo, the way they whole band follows the guitar line before the solo is just class, and that solo is epic, back into a broken down verse and another solo to fade out!
6.5 out of 10
I will be honest, if this was an eight-track album and Tracks 3 and 9 were not on it, I would say 7.5 out of 10, but they just don’t fit the rest of the album!
Is it a solid album apart from those tracks, absolutely, is it worth giving it a spin again, yeah it is! It could do with a bit more variation, wanting to stick to the same mid-tempo feel a lot of the way through it, nonetheless a good listen!