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The first half of the 80s was dominated by speed and power metal bands that were rising to challenge the power of the thrash metal. Among all the more or less well-known acts, we must remark the very good Abattoir from Los Angels because with just two albums, they were able to capture the attention of the speed metal aficionados all over America and Europe. Soon these two albums became cult also for their rarity. The first one of these two was called Vicious Attack and it came out in 1985. This album can be even considered a sort of an EP due to its short length but, instead, the band recognizes it as normal album.
The opening track “Screams from the Grave” is a fantastic attack of pure speed metal with up tempo, catchy riffs and truly powerful vocals. The energy that this track already transmits to us it's something incredible because you’ll find yourself doing headbang in awhile. The bass is pulsing, metallic and bound to the very first traditional metal style, the structure is simple, in your face, direct and fun as fuck! The production is quite clear for the period and all the instruments are powerful, well-distinguishable and nasty, introducing the following “Vicious Attack (Maniac)” that more or less follows the same impulsive touch of the first track. So, prepare for more up tempo, fast guitars duets and fast solos. Everything is surrounded by great vocals to give the right melodic but also angry touch.
“The Enemy” continues on drums up tempo to sustain this time more thrashy riffs even if the more melodic touch is bound to the classic power/speed style. The intensity is always on high levels and several gang vocals parts help in giving a truly nasty approach, before the good cover “Ace of Spades” that here is a bit more thrashy but always truly enjoyable, conserving that original epic and dirty touch. “The Living and the Dead” succeeds in being always good even if this time the tempo is a bit slower and, if we want, more canonical for speed metal because it’s a kind of faster mid-paced one to bring on its back lots of fast palm muting riffs with the classic dark touch. The vocals are calmer too but at times they reach higher peaks, but without the tonalities of the other tracks.
“Stronger than Evil” is a return to the classic speed with fast palm muting riffs and the fast bass drums sections. The short solo sections are fast and they don’t care a lot about the technique because it’s all about the speed, like the genre itself says. “Don’t Walk Alone” is more of the same impulsive style even if this time the structures have become a bit less catchy if we compare them with the ones on the first two/three tracks. However, it’s always a truly enjoyable speed metal attack like it is even for the last “Game of Death” that, anyway, has a bit more epic solutions to be darker too and catchier…the slower part comes by the middle and it’s normal for its quite considerable length, but it’s just a matter of seconds.
All in all, this is another very good speed metal album from the best period for this genre and it’s recommended to those who are searching for sincere music in a period in which the technique and the excessive speed seem to be the only important elements.
Next to Agent Steel's "Skeptics Apocalypse" and Savage Grace's "Master of Disguise" which were also released in 1985, Abattoir's debut here could also be seen as one of the earliest speed metal albums out there. The thrash moments are definitely there, but like most early speed/power the songs tend to follow a more -set- structure. With catchy hooks and rhythm's, lightning fast solo's, catchy chorus's galore, and an appetite for speed, Abattoir's debut definitely stands above your generic metal for its time.
The few things that hurt this album is the length and the production. Its only a measly 27 minutes long, and we've all probably seen some demo's and whatnot longer than this. The production, although not utterly terrible, is pretty inconsistent. It gets a bit drowned out and gritty on a few of the tracks (Game of Death especially) and doesn't seem too stable from one song to another. Its passable, not horrible but not great.
The lineup here is pretty top notch. I prefer vocalist Steve Gaines way over their next vocalist on "The Only Safe Place", Mike Towers by far. He's got a great range and puts out a decently aggressive performance, and his shrieks fit perfectly. The dualsters Danny Oliverio and Mark Caro steal the show quite often with their incredible guitar work, and pretty original too. Tons of fast and catchy riffs to be heard here, layered with solo's and shredding from whomever the secondary guitarist during some segments. And the solo's are razor sharp and brilliant, and often effected by a Ride the Sky syndrome as I've always liked to call it. Basically everything from the drums and whatnot seems to power up and go berserk, while the solo's continue and keep building up to more segments for the solo as if it could go on forever. It works perfectly and never gets boring here. The bass is actually quite easy to here at times too, and definitely keeps up with the pace of things. The drums are executed nicely as well, and keeps the demand for speed flowing.
I won't go over all of the tracks, since there's not a lot here and this album is pretty consistent in musical quality. Its a blast from the start and to the end, and the Ace of Spades cover doesn't feel out of place a bit either. Screams from the Grave launches the album off with its incredible buildups, solo's, and insanely catchy chorus. And from there its nonstop speed metal mayhem. Overall I don't think this album could be placed above early Agent Steel or Savage Grace, but it rightfully fits right next to them. For the fans of early US power and speed metal this is definitely something to check out.
“…oh feel the despair, the hopeless prepare to mock and deface the whole human race…”
For me, this five-piece’s sound always lived right between Agent Steel and Helstar; an admirable amalgam of ferocity and catchiness bridging the power and speed realms with a vocalist, aside from a few sporadic yelps, a few rackety throats away from John Cyriis and James Rivera. Of the three, Steve Gaines is the least acknowledged, the Cindy of Three’s Company, his raspy skein the fulcrum to Cyriis’s bizarre, nearly freeform approach and Rivera’s controlled mid-pace. The music mirrors this image as well, the band lighting the fire of conditional powerthrash as heard in “Vicious Attack (Maniac)” and “The Living and the Dead”, but once in awhile can scorch the earth it stands on with a flamethrower of intensity. In addition, all three shared Combat Records at one time or another and of the three is the band I listen to second most.
The lp version of “Scream From The Grave” is still a track entrenched in rowdy-riffed Motorhead cement minus the C(s)yriis vocals that appeared on Metal Massacre 4 during his two track stint with the band in ’83, yet the high notes stay aloft with a chorus just as tensile as the original. A strong cover of “Ace of Spades” appears, and like At War’s Motorhead cover on their debut, has Lemmy taking a coffee break elsewhere. “The Enemy” and “Stronger Than Evil” sacrifice invention for metal more straightforward with a pair of fairly fetching choruses, meanwhile “Don’t Walk Alone” blisters with dynamic thrash fierceness, easily making it the heaviest track on the disk. Not far behind is “Game of Death”, a song that mingles a more submissive, fleshier subterfuge with the dense speed foliage that had grown like ivy from the previous tune.
While the lyrics can’t be called prose, the musicianship is adequate and inspired to a middle class B grade, much in the way Abattoir will be remembered for generations to come. The test of time almost shrugs its shoulders at this, throwing age on it and then dismissing it like something that isn’t quite mandatory to hear, but isn’t at all cringe-worthy if one does. Not an everyday player, but good for a sacrifice fly to get a run in.
Vicious Attack basically has everything you'd want in a speed metal album. Speedy riffs, outstanding vocals, and godly solos. This delivers it all, in songs that aren't repetitive at all or feel long. Thoug it IS a bit too short (27 minutes). Honestly, the first time I listened to it, I though it was mediocre, or just OK. But the more I listened to it, god I thought this ruled. It sounds like Judas Priest in certain places, especially during their speedy solos.
But what does it really sound like? Well, the first you'll listen to this you'll probably be thinking of Judas Priest, though this album is just ... different. It's a bit more aggressive than JP and also a bit more unique. A song that can well describe their unique sound is the cover of Ace of Spades (by Motorhead, obviously). This version of AOS is almost as good with little lead fills here and there and a crunchy solo on top. The solo is also more speedy than the original version by Motorhead.
The only problem with this is, as I already mentioned, the length. 27 minutes just ISN'T enough! But I guess that's not too much of a bad thing though, since if they had added 3-4 more tracks, it could've started to feel repetitive in the end. Still a great speed album, Vicious Attack deserves to be in any speed metal fan's collection!