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  #301  
Old 11-22-2013, 11:26 AM
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Death Angel - The Ultra-Violence - April 23, 1987

Death Angel's debut is a bit of a funny one. One on hand, you have a young group of guys who have grown up immersed in the sounds of Metallica, Exodus, Possessed and the like. They are obviously talented, determined musicians who even caught the attention of one of their idols, evidenced by the fact that Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett produced their demo, Kill As One. On the other hand, you have a young band so caught up in their hometown scene that they maybe go too far in trying to emulate that sound. The trademarks of the Bay Area sound are there: the vicious yet melodic riffs, the catchy choruses complete with gang vocals, the long and winding song structures.

Yet, there is something keeping this band and album from reaching the heights of those aforementioned bands -- the songs lack true, thoughtful development because it takes a back seat to youthful exuberance and the desire to actually become their idols. A lot of the songs drag on for far too long, cramming riffs together that may not necessarily fit. Songs like "Evil Priest" or the sprawling title track are prime examples of this, most likely going for Ride the Lightning levels of riffery.

The overall sound of the album though, is clear and heavy, especially remarkable when compared to Testament's debut, which came just two days before. Much like Testament though, there are some excellent individual performances here. Then 15-year-old drummer Andy Galleon's probably sticks out the most because well, he's FIFTEEN. Vocalist Mark Osegueda's performance is also notable, as he unleashes some pretty ridiculous screams while singing and snarling his way through songs like some kind of Bobby Ellsworth-Joey Belladonna hybrid.

Is The Ultra-Violence the best classic Death Angel release? Most likely, which doesn't bode very well for their others. The debut is enjoyable enough though and is worth at least a few listens.

Standouts: Kill as One, Mistress of Pain, Voracious Souls

Score: 7.5/10
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  #302  
Old 11-23-2013, 04:36 AM
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Originally Posted by El Gordo View Post
Standouts: Kill as One, Mistress of Pain, Voracious Souls
I would definitely have "The Ultra-Violence" as a standout track. Very cool song.

You might consider it one of those that winds on for too long though.
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  #303  
Old 11-23-2013, 11:58 AM
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Originally Posted by illuminatus917 View Post
I would definitely have "The Ultra-Violence" as a standout track. Very cool song.

You might consider it one of those that winds on for too long though.
I like a lot of the riffs in that track, but it definitely feels mashed together to me.
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  #304  
Old 12-07-2013, 11:35 AM
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Artillery - Terror Squad - April 24, 1987

My mother always told me to never judge a book by its cover, and seldom has this advice been more valuable than when listening to Artillery's sophomore effort, Terror Squad. Terror Squad's cover is utter shit, apparently supposed to be an artist's rough draft, but the music contained within is some pretty strong thrash.

Artillery's second full-length builds on the strengths of their first -- fast and heavy with Flemming Ronsdorf's incredibly charismatic vocals providing the storyline -- how can you lose? You can't really... the album does start to take a bit of a dive towards the end -- there are still solid tunes to be found, but they're just not up to the level of the first four songs which probably rank as one of the better album sides in thrash metal history. At the time of it's release, Terror Squad was one of the absolute best European thrash records, and it still holds up -- cover not withstanding.

Standouts: Terror Squad, The Challenge, Let There Be Sin

Score: 8/10
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  #305  
Old 12-17-2013, 09:31 AM
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Mutilator - Immortal Force - May, 1987

Hailing from the same place as Sepultura, it comes as no surprise that Mutilator play a very similar style as those legendary thrashers did in 1986-87. Front man Alexander was even asked to join Sepultura when Jairo left the band in 1987 but turned the offer down. Fast, raw and verging on death metal, Mutilator certainly don't lack for enthusiasm or energy. What separates Sepultura from a band like Mutilator though is true songwriting skill. Even on Morbid Visions, Sepultura displayed a clear ability to build drama and suspense in their songwriting, and most of the songs flowed very well with lots of varied parts. When listening to Mutilator's first album, this is not the case. The band's end game is always the same: blinding speed -- which is all fine and good, but it gets a little predictable as the album goes on. It's a shame too, because there are a lot of cool mid-paced and even epic sounding passages thrown in that seem like they should lead to something even cooler -- but they don't. Just speed. I like speed -- this is a thrash retrospective after all, but sometimes there's just too much of a good thing.

Standouts: War Dogs, Brigade of Hate, Immortal Force

Score: 5.5/10
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  #306  
Old 12-17-2013, 10:09 AM
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Doh, I missed this thread for a few months and have to chime in. I agree with you about Among the Living not being as great as is often thought. I loved the hell out of it back in '87 but find myself not listening to it or Anthrax at all really these days, I just don't think it's interesting enough to stand up over time. I maintain as do others that Overkill should always have been considered part of the big 4 in place of Anthrax.

I think you rated the Legacy too high, IMO The New Order was Testament's high point. And I presume you are getting to Pleasures of the Flesh, for me Exodus' high point and one of the best releases of 1987. And I can't believe I keep forgetting to get Overkill's older albums, I really need to get Taking Over. Also I hated Voivod's album, maybe it's time I give it another chance though.
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  #307  
Old 12-17-2013, 11:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Wrecking Crew View Post
Doh, I missed this thread for a few months and have to chime in. I agree with you about Among the Living not being as great as is often thought. I loved the hell out of it back in '87 but find myself not listening to it or Anthrax at all really these days, I just don't think it's interesting enough to stand up over time. I maintain as do others that Overkill should always have been considered part of the big 4 in place of Anthrax.

I think you rated the Legacy too high, IMO The New Order was Testament's high point. And I presume you are getting to Pleasures of the Flesh, for me Exodus' high point and one of the best releases of 1987. And I can't believe I keep forgetting to get Overkill's older albums, I really need to get Taking Over. Also I hated Voivod's album, maybe it's time I give it another chance though.
I was already thinking I may have rated Legacy a little too high... I may have to go back and revise it... although I do think it's Testament's high point, not The New Order!

I'll definitely be getting to Pleasures of the Flesh, and I would recommend revisiting Killing Technology. I didn't like it years ago, and still didn't like it on my first listen upon revisiting it, but it kind of wormed its way into my brain -- quality, if not weird-sounding stuff.
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  #308  
Old 01-06-2014, 04:33 PM
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  #309  
Old 01-11-2014, 10:54 AM
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Well now that the flurry of year-end lists is over, I'll get back at it!



Heathen - Breaking the Silence - May 1, 1987

If it wasn't already obvious with the debuts of Testament and Death Angel earlier in 1987, it becomes painfully clear with Heathen's first album -- the Bay Area sound has arrived. Much like the two previous bands, Heathen plays an aggressive, technical style with heavy emphasis on melody and hooks -- and they are probably the best example of it so far. Breaking the Silence hits the ground running, with the first three songs being absolute winners packing all kinds of great riffs into wonderfully crafted songs much in the same vein as Metallica's Ride the Lightning years earlier.

Breaking the Silence is a little top-heavy as the real gems are all found in the first half although the album does close on a high note with "Save the Skull". The songs also start to get slightly repetitive as most seem to feature some sort of speedy gallop. The cover tune, a very well done version of Sweet's "Set Me Free" breaks up the flow of the album a little as well. There are no bad songs though as even the worst would still qualify as most other bands' best.

Standouts: Goblin's Blade, Open the Grave, Death by Hanging

Score: 9/10
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  #310  
Old 01-11-2014, 10:58 AM
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Possessed - Eyes of Horror - May 31, 1987

At some point after the release of their influential debut, Possessed decided they wanted to be less cutting edge death metal and more conventional thrash. After a good but slightly confused transitional album in Beyond the Gates, Possessed released this 5-song EP, and the transformation seems to be complete. There are still hints of death metal -- the vocals for one remain unchanged and while there are some pretty twisted riffs present they just aren't as evil and ugly as they were only two years earlier. Very solid thrash metal is what we have here though, with a much cleaner sound than we've heard from this band before. Unfortunately, this is the last we would hear from the band until 2003.

Standouts: Confessions, Eyes of Horror

Score: 7.5/10
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