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Since I'm generally not a fan of re-recordings, I must admit that I approached Hindsight with much trepidation. While I understand the motivations behind these, much too often the feel of an album gets compromised after making way for better production quality. Even worse, some artists like to butcher their work George Lucas-style by subtracting and adding different arrangements that completely change the songs all together. This happens especially in the vocal department, with the two biggest offenders to me being Testament's First Strike Still Deadly and Running Wild's The First Years Of Piracy, the former being one that made at least a slight bit of sense in theory, and the latter being just plain unecessary. So it goes, the results of both were completely counter-productive and embarrassing, as if to say to their fans "Isn't it great how sterile we sound now?"
These follies are why I was a little gunshy to check out this compilation, but being a big fan of the band, I knew I had to give it a try. I think this is one of the most underrated bands in history, and it's a shame so many a metal fan are still unfamilar with Anacrusis, who were so brilliantly ahead of their time with their own original, imaginitive, and technical band of thrash.
True, the production on the original recordings of Suffering Hour and Reason were not the greatest, the former especially. In fact, I much preferred the Annihilation Complete demos to Suffering Hour, as they just seemed a lot more heavier and evil to me somehow. With Reason, the problem to me was not only the production, but also the songs themselves. Nearly every song on Suffering Hour is a classic to me while the songs on Reason, with the exception of a couple, had failed to leave much of an impression on me despite several listens. But I suppose that's one of the good things that can come from a live album or a compilation like Hindsight: and chance to hear something differently.
So I gave it a go and played Suffering Hour first. When "Present Tense" came on, I was immediately relieved by how the guitar sounded, especially since the unique guitar-tones of Kenn and Kevin are one of their key trademarks. When the drums and bass came in seconds after I was even more relieved; despite everything sounding much cleaner it still retained that sound like it was recorded in a crypt. And then finally, and maybe most importantly, the vocals of Kenn Nardi. Good news! He can still do.......whatever the fuck he does!!! He's slightly not as over the top on here as he's been in the past, but it's more tastefully done in my opinion. He knows how to produce the vocals too. I feared that the backround or gang vocal parts would come off cheesy this time around, but they work familiarly well. The songs are all full-speed ahead, and I'll say that these recordings are really what these songs were meant to sound like. "Imprisoned", "Butcher's Block", "Frigid Bitch" are outstanding, as well as my personal fave "Fighting Evil".
Next was Reason, the album that's long been the least accessible to me out of the four. I think this is like listening to a totally different album to me this time around, and maybe it was really just the production all along. The album is still a little lopsided though, and maybe that's why the album never previously clicked with me the way it should have. The album starts slow to me, as I tend to favor the songs on the second half more like "Mishappen Intent", "Child Inside" and "Quick To Doubt", but the rest is all good, it's just not as catchy as their other albums, it's a little more sporadic. However, I truly feel that the new recording has defintely breathed new life into these songs for me, and I hope that I'll enjoy them as much as I do as the tracks on Suffering Hour eventually.
So there you have it, a rare example of when a re-do makes perfect sense. They didn't fuck with anything, they just went for it, and after 20+ years it feels like they've been unfrozen from their cryogenic chambers, as the performances are outstanding here. In the liner notes, Kenn Nardi mentions that on the original recordings there were some "sloppy performances" present, but there weren't really. The real problem was that the production didn't allow them to sound like heavy band that they truly were. Now you can hear the full potential of these songs, much fuller and heavier this time around without losing the ethereal feel of the originals. I'd recommend this compilation to longtime fans of the first two releases, and newcomers alike. In fact, I might even insist on this being the first release someone should hear from Anacrusis.